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18 True Christmas Miracles That Will Restore Your Hope for the Holidays

These true stories prove that a well-timed letter, a handful of pennies, or a single gust of wind can make an ordinary Christmas a cherished memory.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

old letters and antique french postcards. vintage sentimental retro style backgroundLiliGraphie/Shutterstock

The mail train’s gift: a life-changing Christmas miracle message

My mother told me this true Christmas story from World War I many years ago. Christmas 1917 was coming, but because her brother Archie Clikeman was missing in action and presumed dead, the family was not going to celebrate.

The townspeople of Parker, South Dakota, always joked that the small-town postmaster read all the postcards whenever the mail train came into town. On that Christmas Eve, he lived up to his reputation.

The family was always grateful that the postmaster, instead of waiting for the rural mail to go out the day after Christmas, called my grandmother and told her that Archie was being held as a prisoner of war. Archie even wrote on the postcard that he was well.

Of course, my mother said, that turned out to be the best Christmas ever. Archie came home after the war and lived to a ripe old age. —Kay Johnson, Parker, South Dakota. Read some stories of people making their own Christmas miracles with these tales of Christmas kindness.

beautiful Christmas gifts under tree in new year decorated house interiorMikhail_Kayl/Shutterstock

A season for Mercy

Polly, my stepmom, suggested the sweetest name: Mercy. We soon learned it was just what this new boxer pup would need.

My parents’ rambunctious dog would bolt out of bed and go-go-go all day long. So when they brought home a Christmas tree, they expected chaos. To their astonishment, Mercy didn’t seem to care. She paid zero attention to the tree suddenly growing in her living room. Nor did she react to the fancy presents under it, including a wrapped box of Milk-Bones.

Dad and Polly were wary; they’d never had a dog that didn’t force them to move everything to higher ground as if they were expecting a flood. But Mercy seemed oblivious.

A few days before Christmas, Polly awoke early, as usual. She passed the dimly lit living room and then stopped cold. Glancing back into the room, she saw that every last present was gone. Only the tree was still there.

Had they been robbed? Why hadn’t Mercy barked? Where was she? Had the burglars taken her? Her thoughts frantic, Polly noticed a scrap of ribbon on the floor. Then a bit of torn wrapping paper a few feet away. Some glitter beyond that. The clues all made a trail leading toward the back door.

Polly flipped the switch, bathing the backyard in light. The perpetrator’s head lifted and froze. Alarm and guilt made her eyes wide. Oh, yes, it was Mercy.

She lay under her favorite tree in a fluffy nest of shredded wrapping paper, chewed-up boxes, and curling bits of ribbon. Presents, pawed from their packages, were strewn among tattered bows. Beautifully wrapped boxes had gaping holes. Fragments of tissue paper mixed with the last remaining evidence of gifts.

Clearly Mercy’s self-control had failed. She’d silently carried one package after another out the doggy door so she could pillage in private. Anything edible was gone, including cookies, chocolates, candy canes, and four pounds of Milk-Bones.

Nature took pity on Mercy, and she survived her midnight snack. My parents were so grateful, they laughed off the ruined presents. Only one problem remained. With all the gift tags destroyed, how could they send out thank-you cards?

Mercy presented the problem, so Mercy provided the answer. A few days later, Polly returned to her easy chair to find Mercy guiltily licking a plate where a doughnut had just been. Polly snapped a picture of the shamefaced pooch and used it to make thank-you notes. The caption read, “Thank you for the ??” Inside, the whole story was explained. We all had to laugh. And everyone shared the sweet reminder that amid all the gift-giving, it’s really a season for Mercy. —Teresa Ambord Anderson, from Country Woman. Mercy definitely deserves a spot on this list of adorable pets filled with Christmas spirit.

Flat view pennies. United States currency penny, many old new dirty clean viewed from directly above. The penny is the lowest denomination coin in the U.S. currency.Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock

Our pennies made all the difference

Many years ago, when I was making 75 cents an hour, my three children asked for bicycles for Christmas, but I couldn’t afford them.

So that January, I put three bikes on layaway. I paid all through the year, but a week before Christmas, I still owed $14.50. The Saturday before Christmas, my son Ricky asked how much I needed. When I told him, he asked if he could pour the pennies out of the penny jug we kept.

I said, “Son, I don’t care, but I know there’s not $14.50 worth of pennies in there.”

Ricky poured them out, counted them, and said, “Mom, there’s $15.50 worth of pennies.” Ecstatic, I told him to count out $1 for gas so I could go get the bikes.

I’ve always thought of this as our little Christmas miracle. It was as blessed a Christmas as anyone could ever have. —Dot Williams, Canton, Georgia. For some serious Christmas spirit, check out the best Christmas town in every state.

Snowy winter road during blizzard in Latvia. Heavy snow storm.Alex Stemmer/Shutterstock

Snow angel

Ice and snow pelted the window of the office where I was working. As the wind howled, I wondered how I would get home. The 12-mile route took me up and down steep hills and around treacherous turns. I whispered a prayer for safety.

My old green Blazer was doing well over the ice-crusted roadway, dodging the snowdrifts. But as I ascended one of the steepest and scariest hills, I noticed the tires were slipping, and my trusty SUV was having difficulty climbing the grade.

I decided it was time to switch to four-wheel drive. I pulled the lever back, just like my husband had taught me. Slowly the tires gripped the road, and the top of the hill came within sight.

But at the crest, the vehicle just stopped. I pushed and pulled the lever—nothing happened. I was stuck, with snow and ice pellets swirling.

Now what? Even though I had met no one on this lonely stretch of road, I silently asked that someone might come to help. After a few minutes, I spied an old, rattling pickup truck. A smiling young man I’d never seen before in our small rural community rolled down his window and asked if I needed help. I assured him that I did. He stepped into the wintery madness and showed me how to maneuver the four-wheel-drive shifting gear, locking it into place.

In no time, I had the Blazer moving toward home. When I thanked the stranger and asked if he lived around the area, he just said, “Oh, over yonder.” Do I believe in angels? You betcha! —R. Elaine Sherry, New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from Country Extra

red retro car with a Christmas tree on top and presentsKristina Bessolova/Shutterstock

Santa found us on the road

At Christmastime, in 1961, our family was on the way from Seattle to a new assignment on the East Coast, and we checked into a motel in Watertown, South Dakota. It was not the best time to travel with young children, who were concerned about Santa finding us on the road.

We headed into town to find a store, and as our car approached an intersection, there was a Santa right in the crosswalk! He held up his hand for us to stop, and we rolled down our windows.

Santa poked his head through a window and said to our kids, “Oh, there you are! I was wondering where I’d find you tonight.”

Naturally, the kids were thrilled to pieces. They made sure we told Santa which motel we were staying at so he could find them. My wife and I had tucked away gifts for the trip, as we knew we wouldn’t have time to shop along the way.

The cartop carrier and out-of-state license plate might have been a giveaway, but whatever it was, that Santa really made Christmas 1961 a memorable one for our kids. —Dave Grinstead, Bellingham, Washington. Movies are another great way to experience Christmas miracles—these are the 40 best Christmas movies of all time, ranked.

Beautiful black lab puppy lying on the porch of a house. Room for your text.Michelle D. Milliman/Shutterstock

An unlikely angel

It was 1999. A few days after Christmas, a black dog with a little white around his mouth wandered onto the front porch and settled in as if he’d lived here all his life.

Whenever anyone left the house to do chores or walk next door to my brother-in-law’s house, the black dog followed. He’d patiently wait until we were done, follow us home and lie down on the porch.

Inside, the house was full of sadness and quiet conversation. My 91-year-old father-in-law, Jim Cravens, was gravely ill. The family had gathered to see to his care, to cook and to welcome visitors. Jim and his wife, Dorothy, were beloved pillars of the community.

This curious visitor gave us something new to talk about, a wonderful distraction. Whose dog was he? Did someone drop him off along the road? Did he intend to stay? Either way, it would be dark soon, and he would be cold. Jim sat in the rocking chair by the front window where he could watch the happy black dog’s comings and goings.

We called the radio station, animal shelter, newspaper, sheriff and several neighboring farms about a lost dog. Meanwhile, we made him comfortable on the porch with food, water, and a blanket. The days leading up to New Year brought no news, and we were all just content that our companion had stayed around.

My father-in-law said he wanted to live long enough to see the new millennium, and he did. He passed away Jan. 2. That was the day the black dog left. Then the weather turned cold, and snow fell every day for the rest of the winter, it seemed.

Some time later we heard that the black dog was a rescued dog living with a family about a mile and a half from the farm. They named him Bogart. The following summer Bogart returned to see us again. When his owners came to pick him up, we told them about his angelic Christmas visit, how he had comforted our family with his cheerful companionship. We wanted them to know how much that meant. —Suzanne Cravens, Pine Island, Minnesota, from Farm & Ranch Living

ChristmasChantalDeBruijne/shutterstock

Fate threw a tree at us

During the hustle and bustle of Christmastime 1958, we told our children, ages 3 and 4, about the beautiful Christmas tree we would have in a few days. On Christmas Eve, at the bakery we had recently purchased, we counted the receipts, cleaned the shop and headed for home with our two sleepy children.

Suddenly, we remembered we had not gotten a tree. We looked for a vendor who might have a tree left, to no avail.

About a mile from home, we stopped for a red light. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew, and something hit the front of our truck. My husband went out to investigate.

The next thing I knew, my husband was throwing a good-sized evergreen into the back of the truck. He went into the mom-and-pop store at the corner where we were and asked the proprietor how much he wanted for the tree. He said he wasn’t selling Christmas trees that year.

It was a Christmas miracle! We never did find out how the tree got in the middle of the road, but somehow we feel we know. Incidentally, it was the most beautiful tree we have ever had. —Gertrude Albert, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here are some heartwarming true Christmas stories of kids meeting Santa Claus.

Christmas Manger scene with figurines including Jesus, Mary, Joseph, sheep and magi.PixelDarkroom/Shutterstock

A bundle of Nativity nerves

Three years ago, our neighbors decided to host a live Nativity. They spread fresh straw in their barn, mounted a star in the rafters and built a makeshift cradle in the manger. We got a call: Could we loan them a lamb? We said we’d love to help, but in December lambs are pretty much full-grown sheep. They are not handled, either, so they are somewhat wild full-grown sheep. We were afraid that when the children started doing what children do, the sheep might change their peaceful Nativity into a rollicking rodeo.

No problem, our neighbors said. It’ll all be just fine.

We did have one ewe that had been at the fair, so she’d had a halter on at least once in her life. Our grandson, Jordan, knew how to lead a sheep and agreed to be her shepherd. We prayed for the best.

On the day of the event, my husband, Jerry, went to the corral to catch the ewe, who was not pleased about it. Finally, the halter was secure, the sheep loaded in the pickup and headed for the neighbors’ barn, and Jerry and I had our fingers firmly crossed.

As he handed the rope to Jordan, Jerry reminded him to keep her head up and keep a short rope. As an afterthought, he suggested that if the sheep began to baa, Jordan might put his hand gently over her mouth. Meanwhile, in the Nativity, the wise men and women gazed with wonder and awe at the shining star in heaven as the young Mary and Joseph entered the stable with the pretend babe and laid him in the manger. Jerry and I wondered if a pretend sheep might have been a good idea, too, but it was a little late for that.

As the violins began playing “Silent Night,” Jordan led the sheep into the stable. Miraculously, as if sensing the solemnity of the occasion, she quietly walked up to the manger and looked in. We held our breath, but she never made a sound.

She didn’t so much as move a muscle during the entire narration for both performances. At the end, all the children hurried up to pet and hug her. Some had never seen a sheep. Our ewe just stood there, calm and respectful, as the children adored her.

When Jerry unloaded her into the corral, she returned to her old self. The moment the gate was down, she leaped from the truck, bounded down the chute and rocketed over to her sheep friends, baaing all the way. Maybe she was eager to tell them about the miracle of the Christmas story, but she’d given us a little miracle of her own that day! —Barbara Buchanan, Tremonton, Utah, from Country

Christmas Sheet MusicDerek Hatfield/Shutterstock

Our carols hit the right ears

I was with a small group of young guys and gals caroling on Christmas Eve, in 1942 San Diego, California. We wandered downtown to Broadway, the main street, and stopped at a block of green grass with a fountain on the plaza.

The streets were streaming with aimless servicemen, all missing the joy and solace of being home for Christmas.

We began singing familiar Christmas songs, and in a short time, the volume increased markedly. I climbed up onto the rim of the fountain to an astonishing sight—a sea of servicemen on the plaza singing with all their hearts. When a song ended, I started another, just beginning the words, and it was immediately picked up.

We sang every traditional song I could think of and didn’t leave the servicemen until near midnight, carrying a beautiful memory with us. —Winnie Phillips Stark, Modesto, California. Find out our choices for the 20 best Christmas songs, ranked.

Close-up detail of cogwheel on a vintage bicycleBangkokhappiness/Shutterstock

It takes a village

Johnny and I, along with our two young sons, Barry and Doyle, lived in a small rural community in southern Alabama in 1959. We had bought Barry a bicycle and Doyle a tricycle for Christmas, and had hidden them in the carport, where Johnny would assemble them on Christmas Eve after the kids were asleep.

But on Christmas Eve day, Johnny had to go to Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, an hour away, to repair a Thunderbird F-100 Super Sabre jet. I had my hands full with baking, preparing for Christmas dinner and caring for two energetic boys.

Just as I was making my favorite frosting for the chocolate cake, a neighbor knocked on the door. Beatrice was the only person on our road with a telephone. The base had called to say that a heavy torque wrench had come apart in Johnny’s hand, knocking his elbow out of joint and chipping the bone. My sister-in-law Ruth and her husband, Otto, took me to the hospital while my mother-in-law stayed with the children.

We got there to find Johnny with a cast on his arm, raring to get home despite the doctor’s orders that he stay. It was Christmas Eve, Johnny argued, and he had bikes to assemble for his boys. The doctor said he’d consider dismissing him the next morning if Johnny could find someone to drive him home.

On Christmas morning, Johnny contacted the base and was told everyone was off duty; there was no one to drive him home. Then he tried the motor pool. They said orders would have to come from higher up, so Johnny kept making calls. At last, a big blue car with the Air Force insignia rolled up to the hospital asking for the man who needed a lift home so he could put together Christmas bikes for his boys.

Johnny’s mother and I were putting dinner on the table when we heard the car. We were thrilled to see Johnny, his arm in a sling, getting out, assisted by a uniformed Air Force officer. With Otto’s help, Johnny assembled the boys’ gifts, and they all had a jolly time playing together that afternoon.

Johnny would later require two surgeries on his arm, but those were in the future. That cold Christmas Day, our hearts were full of gratitude for the many people who had gone the extra mile to bring us together on the holiday. —Jeanette Dyess Ryan, Robertsdale, Alabama. See some more true Christmas stories in images, not words, with these 31 vintage photos of Christmases past.

Blank of craft paper, paints and brushes on blue table with copy space for greeting text viewed from above, Christmas holiday themeistetiana/Shutterstock

A brother’s work of love

Because of my father’s poor health during World War II, our family moved from a tenant farm in Virginia hills to the city of Harrisonburg so my mother could work in a silk mill making parachutes for the boys overseas. On Christmas Eve, I felt lonely and misplaced as I listened to the strange city noises, so different from the familiar sounds of the countryside. Much to my dismay, the family had been so busy moving that we had no tree to decorate. As a 5-year-old, I yearned for a real tree; my older brothers had always enjoyed selecting a cedar or pine from the nearby woods when we lived on the farm.

My brother Gary sensed that something was bothering me and asked, “What’s the matter, Janie? Why are you so sad?”

“We don’t have a tree and It’s Christmas Eve,” I replied. “Where will Santa leave our presents?” To soothe my nostalgic tears, my older brother found a large paper sack, upon which he drew a  beautiful green Christmas tree with big red and blue bulbs and bright yellow tinsel.

“This will have to do this year,” Gary explained. “I’m sure Santa will understand.” The next morning, I received a tiny toy phone from Santa and homemade popcorn balls from Mother and Daddy, but my special gift was my brother’s work of love: the paper tree hanging on the wall. — Jane Allen, Arab, Alabama. Ready to get your Christmas cheer on? Head to the best Christmas market in every state.

A tree farm growing fir trees for Christmas decorationsZigzag Mountain Art/Shutterstock

The Christmas tree angel

My father, Joe Sarna, worked hard as a union plumber during the day and then would spend evenings and weekends on his beloved Christmas tree farm in the small town of Jefferson, Ohio.

Every year when December 1 arrived, Dad would get as excited as a kid waiting for Santa Claus. He would walk through the fields of Douglas fir, Scotch pine, blue spruce, and noble pine, searching for the tallest, prettiest trees. He would deliver the trees to the churches in town—every church, not just his family’s church. He would do this at nighttime, leaving each tree at the front door.

He never left a note to say they were from Sarna’s Tree Farm. He would tell my brothers, sisters and me that if you did a good deed and advertised it in any way, it didn’t really count as a good deed. He made us kids promise not to tell anyone where the trees had come from. Dad delighted in knowing the pastors and church members were spending a lot of time guessing about the origin of the trees.

If a pastor asked Dad if he had been the one who had left such a beautiful tree for their church, my father would play dumb, ask, “What tree?” or change the subject.

When my father passed away in 1989, many of the pastors came to his funeral to pay respects. When I talked with them, I discovered every one of them knew my father had been their Christmas tree angel. —Dot Saurer, Santee, California, from CountryLearn the history behind Christmas trees and your other favorite Christmas traditions.

Christmas angelMarcel Mondocko/Shutterstock

The miracle of Angel Station

When Angelica, New York’s post office was threatened with closure in the 1980s, resident Pat Kaake came up with a plan to save it. Angelica already had lost its neighborhood school in favor of a modern building a few miles outside of town, and the nearest hospitals were 15 miles away in either direction. In Pat’s mind, it was paramount to keep a functioning post office. So she turned to the angels for help.

“At Christmas time I would hear on the news about towns named Snow or Bethlehem having celebrations,” says Pat, who had moved to the tiny village from the big city. “I thought it was a wonderful idea, so I said, ‘Why couldn’t we do the same thing with Angelica?’’’

Pat, who is an artist, created a postal cancellation design featuring an Angelica angel. Staying true to the nature of her adopted home, she drew her angels in a folksy fashion and submitted her proposal to the U.S. Postal Service. Once approved, the drawing was carved into a postmark cancellation stamp that could be used for one day only.

The postmistress had another idea to make the day even more special—calling the post office Angel Station.

The massive uptick in mail volume saved Angelica’s post office from closure and keeps the doors open today. Now it’s tradition that on the first Friday in December, folks come to Angelica to mail their Christmas cards. A carved wooden angel flies near the ceiling. In the corner, a Christmas tree twinkles. Village supporters sit at tables that are topped with bowls of punch and platters of decorated cookies, offering hot chocolate or coffee to those who are mailing cards.

Post offices may close in other parts of the country, but this tiny one endures, thanks to Pat and the miracle of Angel Station. —A.J. Sors, Wellsville, New York, from Country. Experience some Christmas miracles like Angel Station’s at these small American towns filled with Christmas spirit.

Tumbleweed in the steppePhoto_Olivia/Shutterstock

Tumbleweed, oh tumbleweed

In the late 1940s we were living in a little country town called Monta Vista near San Jose, California. Dad worked on and off, so we were generally low on money. But this particular year we had no funds for a Christmas tree.

The tradition Mom loved the most was decorating the Christmas tree, which always stood in a place of honor in our living room. Come Thanksgiving, she would start dragging out boxes filled with all kinds of decorations.

Mom was almost in mourning about not having a tree that year. We tried to cheer her up but nothing seemed to work. As the holiday got closer, she retreated to her bedroom. There, being a woman of strong faith, she began to pray, leaving the situation in God’s hands.

A few days before Christmas, we awoke to an ecstatic mother singing Christmas carols and looking for the decorations. “Mom,” I asked her, “why are you so happy all of a sudden?” She said, “Come see what God did.”

I went out to the back porch with her. A gigantic tumbleweed had blown up against the garage door in the middle of the night. But Mom didn’t see a tumbleweed. She saw a beautiful Christmas tree.

We couldn’t get it through the front or back doors, so we opened both the French doors on the side of the house and brought the “tree” in that way. Somehow the two of us got it fastened to the Christmas tree stand, and we set it up in the living room.

Then we sat down at the dining room table and began to cut strips of construction paper, gluing the ends together to form a chain of bright colors. Mom made popcorn for us to string together with needles and thread. The branches of the tumbleweed were much too brittle to support lights, so we tied just one string close to the trunk where the lights would shine upward.

We all stood back and looked at our tree. My mom began to cry softly. I heard her say under her breath, “Thank you, God, for providing us with a tree to bless us this Christmas.” It’s a memory that continues to bless me every year. —Bill Sparling, Sequim, Washington, from Country

Family Together Christmas Celebration ConceptRawpixel.com/Shutterstock

The more the merrier

Our neighbor John Burns stood with his head down and a worn suitcase in each hand. A young boy with brown eyes and dark hair stood to his right. A fair-haired young girl stood to his left. “I just went through a very bad divorce. I lost my job. And I seriously don’t know what to do.”

He paused and cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you would take Brian and Amy. I don’t want them to end up in foster care again, and I couldn’t help noticing that your kids seem real happy.”

In the silence that followed, the world seemed to stop and hold its breath. Our neighbor stared at the ground. The children’s big, sad eyes were glued on my husband Ron’s.

It was 3 weeks before Christmas 1980. Oregon was suffering yet another recession, and this man wasn’t the only one who’d lost his job. Ron had been laid off just before Thanksgiving.

“Well, I sure don’t see why not,” Ron replied in his easygoing way.

I felt like someone was standing on my chest. My heart pounded in my ears. But I didn’t say a word.

After we finally got everyone in bed that night, my thoughts turned to this unsettling day. How could John leave his children? Would he return? When? My mind raced with questions that I couldn’t answer.

Beside me, Ron snored peacefully in the darkness. He was a worker, not a worrier. He got up before dawn to care for our sheep or to work in the orchard before going off to haul mobile homes (when there were some to haul). When Ron got home at night, he’d eat a quick supper, then go off to fix fences, haul hay or repair equipment.

But the man always found time for his children. And regardless of whatever else you could say about John Burns, he had made a wise choice in asking Ron to take care of his kids.

The short days of December raced toward Christmas. Our kids, Nanci, 12; Randy, 11; and Melodie, 10, shared rooms, beds, clothes, toys, and parents. They made the best of it, and we were proud of them.

My mother always remembered us at Christmas, and her package arrived from Anchorage, Alaska, in mid-December. I opened the box and rewrapped the gifts, making five out of three.

I called Ron’s mother in Albany, about 40 miles away, to tell her we’d be bringing five children to her house for Christmas this year. She chuckled kindheartedly and said that would be just fine. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

On Christmas Day, Ron’s brother, Doug, met us at the door of their parents’ old farmhouse with a jolly, “Merry Christmas!” Inside, we were greeted with the cozy warmth of a wood stove, big hugs and laughter. The celebration was simple. It was about belonging. It was love.

All five kids fell asleep on the long drive home. I was hoping the water pipes in the house didn’t freeze, when a tear slid down my cheek. Why couldn’t we give our children nice Christmas gifts like bicycles and new sleds? It wasn’t fair. If only Ron hadn’t been laid off.

Just then, two little arms went around my neck. Nanci whispered into my ear, “I love you, Mom.” I looked over at Ron to find Melodie hugging him.

Brian and Amy were now awake and looking over the front seat as Melodie sang, “We wish you a merry Christmas…” and the other children joined in.

“That was a great Christmas!” Randy and Brian yelled in unison.

“Bro, give me five!” Randy laughed as the rest of us joined in.

Ron’s eyes met mine. He gave me a smile I’ll never forget, then we continued up our mountain, leaving tracks in the new-fallen snow. —Madison Rothchild, Dallas, Oregon, Country. Here are some tips for celebrating the holidays with a blended family.

Christmas Tree Decorations: Red Orange Bell, White Snowflake, Shining Silver Tinsel on Green Needles with White Tips. Happy New Year and Christmas Concept.EugenePut/Shutterstock

A tiny piece of tinsel

Growing up, we never had an artificial Christmas tree—or a cut one, for that matter. Instead, about a week before Christmas, my parents would haul in a balled or potted evergreen that we’d add to the landscape after the holidays. After we maneuvered the heavy tree into the house, Mother would conceal the bulky container with white flannel to make it look like snow. Daddy would string the lights, and over the tree’s boughs, my sister and I would drape red and green paper chains, strings of popcorn and cranberries, and other baubles we fashioned out of shiny red, green, silver and blue milk-bottle caps. Then we would hang tinsel—weaving one strand at a time between the needles—until our tree sparkled.

On a warm Saturday morning after New Year’s Day, we’d all go into the backyard, pick a site and plant our Christmas tree, making sure to water it thoroughly to protect it against the January freezes that were sure to come. Each year, the yard got a little woodsier as we continued to add new spruce or pine specimens.

One summer afternoon—some 40 years later—I drove by that childhood home and slowed down to savor the memories. The new owners were working in their yard, but when they saw me they stopped and came over to talk. When I told them that I had grown up there, they took me on a tour. The porch, front door, and fireplace looked exactly the same. When we walked into the backyard, I caught my breath and fought back a tear. I was standing in a forest. The couple explained they were from California and had been drawn to the home because of the huge evergreens out back.

When I walked over to admire a Colorado blue spruce, a glint of silver caught my eye. I could hardly believe it, but sure enough, a strand of weathered tinsel was still wrapped around a branch, sparkling in the sun.

Somehow, through almost half a century of Oklahoma heat and cold, that remnant of our holiday tradition survived, much like my fond memories of our backyard Christmas trees—memories that have become more treasured with each passing year. —Vivian Stewart, Piedmont, Oklahoma, from Country Woman

Old fashioned bank teller window sign in a classically styled building.Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

The Christmas loan

My wife’s grandparents Harm and Dena Basche emigrated from Germany to Wirock, Minnesota, back in 1913. Dena worked hard to learn English, and made sure all her children learned it. But Harm resisted learning any more English than what he picked up at the local feed store.

That’s where he heard about a 300-acre farm for rent. Harm checked out the farm and found that it had good soil, a stream and a furnished four-bedroom house. For $500, Harm could rent the place for 5 years with an option to buy—draft horses and farm implements included.

Harm and Dena had saved $205, so Harm put on his best clothes, shined his shoes and set off to borrow $295. The first banker said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t understand you. Are you an American citizen?” The second banker said, “You’ll have to learn English if you want to borrow money here.”

Harm came home unhappy and confused. “In Germany, I go to bank, shake hands and get money. They don’t ask questions like that,” he said.

Dena patiently explained that he’d just have to learn to speak English. Reluctantly, he agreed. But each evening his family helped him. The oldest child played the part of the banker. The other children critiqued how Harm handled himself.

They practiced all through October and November, and on December 10 they decided he was ready. That’s also when Dena surprised him by announcing that the kids had earned $40 doing odd jobs around town, so they needed to borrow only $255. All the children cheered and went to bed feeling proud.

That night, Dena suggested that Harm borrow $300 anyway, so they could give the children a nice Christmas for all their hard work. Harm happily agreed.

The next morning, he shined his shoes and headed into the Farmers and Merchants State Bank. After shaking hands with the banker, Harm said, “I would like to borrow $300 to rent a farm for 5 years from Mr. Clifton Anderson. It is 300 acres, good soil, and a stream.”

The banker replied that he agreed it was a good farm. Then he said, “Mr. Basche, I hear you have a large family, and I like to help folks with large families. How many children do you have?”

“I have one and a half dozen,” Harm answered.

“Wow, 18 children!” the banker said. “You really do need the money. Just sign here.”

Apparently, Harm hadn’t quite mastered English numbers, because he meant to say one plus a half dozen—or seven. Still, the banker lent him the $300. Harm and Dena rented the farm and the family had a very merry Christmas. —Lewis Martin Talmadge, Athens, Tennessee, from Farm & Ranch Living. We definitely got a laugh from this one—plus, here are some funny Christmas cartoons for hilarious holidays.

Close up flat lay photo of Christmas presents and fir toys in wooden basket. Gift boxes wrapped in kraft paper, red ball. Holiday mood. Happy New Year decoration. Merry Christmas concept. Denis Mamin/Shutterstock

Twelve days of Christmas

During the Christmas season in 2012, my husband, Ken, and I came home from church and noticed something on the front porch. We walked over to it and saw it was a basket of goodies wrapped and tied with a beautiful bow. The attached note read “On the first day of Christmas.” We were thrilled someone was thinking of us, especially after losing our daughter in September.

The next night, we checked and sure enough, there was a “second day of Christmas” gift. Try as we might, we couldn’t catch the elf or elves who left those gifts and the ones that followed over the next nine nights.

Finally, on the twelfth night, the elves knocked on our door. Our friend Charlotte Everett and her children Parker and Reese stood there. They were the Christmas angels who made our holiday so very special. They’ll never know how much it meant to us. —Theresa Nordmann, Fairfeld, Illinois, from Country.

 

Originally Published in Reminisce