‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Dr. Carrie Wachsmann
(inspired by a true event) Originally posted December, 2015. Some stories are simply worth repeating.
“It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.
‘Peace on the earth, good will toward men’,
from heaven’s all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.”
Christmas music gently filled the little coffee house. Unlike the carol heralding a “midnight clear,” this night was everything but. Snow fell fast and thick.
In the corner, a young man sat alone. He looked out the window and watched as the last patron of the night plowed their way out of the parking lot.
“Young man, we’re closing.”
He nodded, put on his coat and made his way to the exit. He looked to be about fourteen, fifteen at the most.
As the door closed behind him, the cold quickly bit into his face and hands. He pulled his collar up close to his face.
“Do you have a ride?” a voice called to him.
The young man turned to see someone standing in the shadows of the building.
“No, I’m good,” he answered firmly.
The man persisted. “I’m not so sure about that. It’s Christmas eve. Shouldn’t you be home with your family, sitting by the fire and enjoying a hot chocolate or something?”
The lad shrugged his shoulders as if to say—yah, so what. Who cares anyway.
The man stepped out of the shadows.
The young man saw that he was an old man. Old enough to make him wonder what someone this old was doing out in a snowstorm at this hour of the night.
The old man continued. “Where you’re headed… it is not worth it… You do have options, you know.”
The young man was beginning to feel somewhat uncomfortable. He stared at the old man, not sure what to make of the encounter.
“How do you know where I’m headed?” he finally asked.
“I know that place, under the bridge.” The old man continued. “You won’t find what you’re really looking for out there. Running away isn’t the answer.”
Now the young man paused. page 2 – Twas’ the Night Before Christmas
How did this old man know that he was going to that “homeless place” where he might make it through the night? Maybe if he was lucky someone, would share their Christmas “Spirits” with him. How did this old man know that he was running away?
The old man smiled knowingly and said, “I’ve been young and now I am old, but I have never seen God’s children forsaken.”
The old man talked so strange—and yet he was most compelling.
“I know a place. A place where you can get a hot bowl of homemade soup, and a good night’s sleep. Follow me,” the old man continued. The old man began to make his way through the deep drifts of snow.
The young man hesitated but only for a second or two. “Man…what do I have to lose,” he mumbled. He began to follow in the old man’s footsteps.
After some time, the old man stopped at a building with a sign that read, “The Welcome Home Centre.” He turned to the young man. “They will take care of you. You can stay as long as you wish.” Then he paused, looked the boy in the eyes and added, “God loves you, you know. He’s got plans for you.”
The young man did not know what to think. No one had ever talked to him like this before. They stood in silence and waited.
Eventually, a pleasant sort of man answered the knock on the door. The young man’s last bit of resistance melted away as he breathed in a blast of warm fragrant air. He smelled something wonderful.
“Come in. Welcome,” the man said sincerely.
“I…ah..need a place to hang till this storm’s over,” the young man said hesitantly.
“You’ve come to the right place then,” came the reassuring answer.
The young man sighed. He turned and started to thank the old man, but no one was there.! “That old man, who was here with me! He brought me here! He was just here,” the bewildered young man exclaimed.
“I didn’t see anybody but you, lad,” came the answer.
“But he was here, I followed him. He told me about you. He knew stuff about me…he….” Bewildered, the young man took one last look out into the white night. He saw only lonely empty streets and a fast disappearing, single set of footprints that led to The Welcome Home’s front porch.
Putting a kind hand on the young man’s shoulder, the man at the door said, “It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened, son. “I do believe you. Come—I want to hear all about it.”
It’s now midnight, and that brings our Christmas eve story to an end. Yes, this young man’s life was changed forever that Christmas eve. What will this Christmas bring you?
Will you let God’s love bring you a miracle this Christmas? Will you let his peace rule in your heart?
I wish you a life-changing kind of Christmas.
One that you will remember forever because it was—well—life-changing.