Christmas Redeemed

by Terry Hoffman
Hoquiam, WA

Christmas has never held very many good memories for me.

As a child, my family life was a nightmare. My mother was full of hate for the world and made life miserable for all of us. My father was the kindest person, but could not stand up to my mother.

My maternal grandparents lived in Great Britain and I never met them. My father’s parents lived right next door. Unfortunately, my grandmother died when I was just a baby, and my grandfather, when I was eight. In other words, I grew up without any sense of family. I used to “adopt” the mothers of my friends, trying to define what that elusive word, “family”, meant. After I left home, my father used to have to sneak visits with me after my mother “disowned” me so many times.

On one of those rare Christmases when I was welcome, my mother bought me clothes as a gift. Unfortunately, they were the wrong size. She said that she would exchange them. Shortly thereafter, I did something to upset her once again, and she spitefully returned my gifts. There went that Christmas.

Unfortunately, my father died when I was in my late twenties. I wisely severed all connections with my mother, which was the only way of dealing with her hatred. She had poisoned my sister and me against each other over the years, so communication between us was very sporadic and not all that amicable. I spent most of my Christmases alone, since I felt like an intruder when invited to spend the holidays with my friends and their families.

Shortly after I left home, I had made a very good friend; she turned out to be my life-long best friend. Sometimes we lived close to each other and other times quite a distance apart, but we always maintained our close friendship.

Christmas RedeemedOne Christmas, I realized I could not endure another holiday alone. I called my friend on Christmas Eve day and asked her if she would allow me to spend the holiday with her and her children. She agreed, and I set out on a two-hour drive to her home. When I arrived, she immediately put me to work, helping her prepare for the next day. After the kids were in bed, she sat me down and started throwing all sorts of gifts at me to wrap. It went on for hours. Exhausted, we finally went to bed about midnight.

The next morning, it was so wonderful to feel part of a real family. It was exciting to watch the kids opening their gifts. It was all of the Christmases that I had never had. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there were even gifts under the tree for me! In the chaos of wrapping the previous night, she had sneaked in several items. She had played Christmas Angel and tricked me into wrapping my own gifts for the only real family Christmas that I ever had!

Originally published as HeroicStories #878 on Dec 9, 2016

11 thoughts on “Christmas Redeemed”

  1. Nice story, but even nicer to see a brand new Heroic Story here.

    I like the previous ones, but it’s been a while since we saw a new one…

  2. There are two types of family in this world. The family you are born into which you can do nothing about. And there is the family you collect as you walk this world. In my opinion the second one says a lot more about your character then the first. It sounds like Terry is a very good person.

  3. What a beautiful story! How fantastic that she gave you the Christmas you were always were looking for. My home life was different from yours as we had Gram and Grampa and cousins and an aunt close by and many extended members spread around the area. WE had holiday dinners together after a 6 year fallout betweem mom and Gram. They agreed to bury the hatchet and go forward as Dad wanted us to be able to spend time with our cousins. We had a blast growing up with holidays, and going to the lake in the summer, and birthdays. But time has scattered us all over the country with only 2 members of our generation still in the home area. So we have to rely on phone calls to keep in touch and the Christmas cards. I still appreciate my quirky family but know that unless we all stayed in the same area, there was no way we could keep up with the big holiday dinners. There are cousins, second cousins, third cousins, grands, great grands, etc etc etc! And we all are linked in the way families are linked. The love is there and your friend is a true blessing.

  4. This story brought me to tears. It is just like me growing up. I have long ago not had contact with my mother as she has decided I am not worth the words. I am so glad to see this young person become entwined in a friend/family to build a memorial Christmas to last a lifetime. Family does not always mean related.

  5. It was sad to read of Terry being rejected by her mother. I grew up with no grandparents, in a very small family, but at least I knew my mother loved me. Glad to read of her finding the joy of being included in a Christmas celebration with her good friend’s family, and wish her love for her future.

  6. Terry,
    I am so glad you found someone who adopted you, at least for that Christmas. I wish you many, many more.
    Yea, I just got over Thanksgiving. All of my family has passed away so I spend every major holiday alone. What makes me mad is that many churches talk about the ‘body of Christ’ and ‘We are all family’, but when it comes to the holidays, they close ranks and since I am not a member of their family, I spent all the major holidays home alone, watching TV, or mowing the lawn if it is in the summer or just …alone.. so I don’t believe in the ‘love of Christ and body of Christ’ stuff, because the humans fall down on the job.
    On the other hand, I don’t have to put up with relatives like National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation and don’t have to watch the cat get electrocuted, so I can’t complain much.
    But I have learned to outwardly wish everyone the very best for the holidays, and cringe every time someone says. “Merry Christmas”, knowing that I will be alone.
    I have opened my house in previous years to all the Holiday Orphans and we play board games and eat snacks and drink cider and pop till we burst. These are a blast!
    Terry, I am very happy you found someone to help you make your holidays wonderful.
    If not, c’mon over and we can play Monopoly or Scrabble or something.

  7. Terry,
    Thank you for the reminder that many souls around the world are alone at Christmas. In my childhood family we always welcomed the stranger, the outcast, or the person that needed a home on this special day. One should never be alone, but if you find yourself alone reach out to another in need. Too many times we forget that Christmas is not about materialism, but about the redemption of humanity through “Grace”. This year I am faced with much tragedy, financial instability, uncertainty, and a family that is hundreds of miles away, but I will be content knowing that I am loved and thought of by many. I plan on reaching out to a friend in greater need than I. Also, I will watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” and the Twilight Zone episode “The Night Of The Meek”where Art Carney plays a beaten down department store Santa Claus who rediscovers the Christmas spirit. That is all I need for Christmas. May all reading this have a most blessed Christmas!

  8. Although as a rule I don’t observe Christmas, as I’m Jewish, the Christmas season of 1971 was very hard for me. I was in the Air Force and stationed in Taiwan, while my wife and young daughters (ages 4 and 5) were wintering near my in-laws in New York State.
    Some of the people in my organization had been able to bring their families to Taiwan. They invited the married personnel who were unaccompanied (by their own families) to join them for a very festive afternoon.
    I still get teary-eyed when I remember what my friends, co-workers, and supervisors did for us that day in 1971.

  9. “May your days be merry and bright”………….I certainly hope this will be true for you, TERRY. If you continue to reach out to others, and share in their joy, it will become yours, too. If you are part of a church family, find some other person or family that needs help. YOUR helping someone else is so rewarding, as you found out with helping your friend.

    God Bless us, everyone.!!!!


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