A Christmas Miracle
t was a cold, miserable, rainy day when Terry Caldwell, clad only in a thin jacket, boarded a streetcar to the city in search of employment. Recently divorced, out of work and broke, Terry desperately needed work to cover the rent of her small apartment, pay many bills, and take care of her young daughter, Peggy, and herself.
Relieved to be out of the cold and wet (she had no umbrella), Terry found a seat alone on the streetcar. As she sat down, she noticed a beautiful silk umbrella with a silver handle inlaid with gold and flecks of bright enamel leaning against her seat. Never having seen one like it, she picked the umbrella up to examine it more closely and spotted a name engraved on the handle.
After thinking about it, Terry decided that instead of turning in the umbrella to the conductor, she would try to find the owner and return it in person. As she left the street car, she gratefully opened the beautiful umbrella for protection from the rain.
After leafing through a crumpled phone book in the nearest phone booth, she finally spotted the name of the umbrella's owner. The voice on the other end of the line sounded excited when she heard that her beautiful umbrella had been found. "My parents gave me the umbrella for my birthday a few years ago, and they're both gone now," she said, adding, "I'm a teacher and my umbrella was stolen from my locker at school almost a year ago, and I'd be so grateful to have it returned!"
Her last job ended the day before
Christmas, her $30 rent was due, and
she had only $15 to her name.
As Terry hung up the phone, she decided that instead of looking for work, she would deliver the umbrella to its owner. When she did so, the teacher tried to reward her with cash but Terry wouldn't accept it, even though she needed money desperately. However, she did leave her address at the teacher's request.
During the next wretched six months, Terry could find temporary employment which paid only a pittance. Her last job ended the day before Christmas, her $30 rent was due, and she had only $15 to her name for food for her daughter and herself.
Snow fell gently as she walked home from work on Christmas Eve. Carols sounded merrily above the din of traffic and pretty lights decorated the windows of stores and homes. But there would be no Christmas cheer for Terry or Peggy. She collected the mail from her box—only bills and two white envelopes. Probably more bills, she thought. She cried as she climbed the three flights of stairs to her apartment, but then put on a smiling face to meet her daughter. Peggy greeted her mother with joyous hugs and insisted they decorate their tiny Christmas tree immediately.
Terry managed as best she could, but she knew that before January they would be homeless, foodless and she would be jobless—unless a miracle happened. As she served hamburgers for Christmas Eve dinner, she thought of the prayers she had earnestly lifted to God for many weeks—prayers for a permanent job and for her other needs to be met—with no answer. Misery overwhelmed her and her heart felt colder than ice. She felt abandoned, forgotten, and as lonely as death. For the first time she even doubted the existence of God.
And then the doorbell rang. It was a delivery man with arms full of parcels. "This must be a mistake," Terry said, but when she checked, she saw that the packages were all addressed to her. She plopped down on the floor beside Peggy and they excitedly opened the packages. There, they found a huge doll, gloves, candy, and a beautiful leather purse....
Incredible, she thought, who could they be from? She looked at the return address and saw the teacher's name but the main address was missing. She had apparently moved to California as the postmark bore witness.
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