7 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.
The mail train’s gift: a life-changing Christmas miracle message
My mother told me this 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
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. Check out the best Christmas town in every state.
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 a Christmas miracle. These are the 40 best Christmas movies of all time, ranked.
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
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. Although the holidays should be about cheer and joy, it’s still nice to enjoy a thoughtful gift. Finding the right one, however, is a Christmas miracle all by itself. Here are 30 last-minute Christmas gifts with free overnight shipping.
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. Avoiding family stress during the holiday season is pulling off a Christmas miracle all your own. Here are 8 ways to enjoy the holidays with a blended family.
A bother’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. Next, check out the best Christmas market in every state.
For more heartwarming memories and incredible true stories from the past, check out our sister publication, Reminisce magazine.