For those who know me. "The Rifle" & "The Filling Station" stories.
Have always been the foundation, of my yearly "long" Christmas card.
I hope everyone has a safe, and enjoyable Christmas, with family and friends.
Hopefully, we can all meet here again next year.
Please remember our troops, who are away from their families.
Keep them in your thoughts, and prayers.
Remember, CHRISTmas is about giving.
"NOT", seeing how much you can get.
The birth of Christ, is the reason for the season!
Take care, be safe.
Chris & Marie - Alaska
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who
squandered their means and then never had enough for
the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in
need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was
from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes
from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and
feeling like the world had caved in on me because
there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the
rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores
early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa
wanted a little extra time so we could read in the
After supper was over I took my boots off and
stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for
Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling
sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much
of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the
Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I
couldn't figure it out because we had already done all
the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was
too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out
and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he
said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was
really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle
for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold,
and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd
already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of
anything else that needed doing, especially not on a
night like this.
But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging
one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I
got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat,
and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened
the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I
didn't know what.
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front
of the house was the work team, already hitched to the
big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't
going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell.
We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to
haul a big load.
Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I
reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was
already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on,
Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in
front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I
think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said.
"Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a
bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low
sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do
would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into
the woodshed and came out with an armload of
wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from
the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and
splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said
something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You
been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The
Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her
husband had died a year or so before and left her with
three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been
by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by
just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging
around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips.
They're out of wood, Matt."
That was all he said and then he turned and went back
into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I
followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began
to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.
Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went
to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a
side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put
them in the sled and wait.
When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over
his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in
his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked.
"Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had
gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in
the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little
candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in
silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing.
We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course,
we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was
left now was still in the form of logs that I would
have to saw into blocks and split before we could use
it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare
that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was
Pa buying them shoes and candy?
Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had
closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our
concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen
house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible,
then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.
We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice
said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son,
Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a
blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children
were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of
the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave
off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match
and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few
things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of
flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her
the sack that had the shoes in it.
She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one
pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for
each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes
that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her
lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears
filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.
She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something,
but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He
turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to
last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat
this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went
back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my
throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were
tears in my eyes too.
In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled
around the fireplace and their mother standing there
with tears running down her cheeks with so much
gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My
heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known
before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many
times before, but never when it had made so much
difference. I could see we were literally saving the
lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits
soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them
each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with
a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a
long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you,"
she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children
and I have been praying that he would send one of his
angels to spare us."
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and
the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never
thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after
Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was
probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa
had never walked the earth. I started remembering all
the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me,
and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we
left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered
how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed
that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord
would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when
we stood up to leave.Pa took each of the kids in his
big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and
didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed
their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The
Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for
Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more
than the three of us can eat, and a man can get
cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many
meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be
nice to have some little ones around again. Matt,
here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the
youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all
married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and
said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say,
"'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep
within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had
gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want
you to know something. Your ma and me have been
tucking a little money away here and there all year so
we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have
Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from
years back came by to make things square. Your ma and
me were real excited, thinking that now we could get
you that rifle, and I started into town this morning
to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out
scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in
those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I
spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those
children. I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.
I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done
it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of
priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given
me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant
smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the
Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and
remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding
home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more
than a rifle that night, he had given me the best
Christmas of my life.
8:28 "And we know that in all things God
works for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to His
The Filling Station ====================
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas
Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife
had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no
lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't
hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to
celebrate. There were no children in his life. His
wife had gone.
He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been
falling for the last hour and wondering what it was
all about when the door opened and a homeless man
stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out,
George, Old George as he was known by his customers,
told the man to come and sit by the space heater and
"Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the
stranger. "I see you're busy. I'll just go"
"Not without something hot in your belly," George
turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it
to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and
tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done
there's coffee and it's fresh."
Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the
driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George
There in the driveway was an old 53 Chevy. Steam was
rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.
"Mister can you help me!" said the driver with a deep
Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is
George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked
cracked from the cold; the car was dead. "You ain't
going in this thing," George said as he turned away.
"But mister. Please help...."The door of the office
closed behind George as he went in. George went to
the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and
went back outside. He walked around the building and
opened the garage, started the truck and drove it
around to where the couple was waiting.
"Here, you can borrow my truck," he said. "She ain't
the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched
as it sped off into the night. George turned and
walked back inside the office.
"Glad I loaned em the truck. Their tires were shot
too. That 'ol truck has brand new tires........"
George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the
man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with
a used coffee cup beside it.
"Well, at least he got something in his belly," George
thought. George went back outside to see if the old
Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started.
He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been.
He thought he would tinker with it for something to
do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered
the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose
on the radiator.
"Well, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put
a new one on. "Those tires ain't gonna get 'em
through the winter either." He took the snow treads
off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and
he wasn't going to drive the car.
As he was working he heard a shot being fired. He ran
outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the
cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the
officer moaned, "Help me." George helped the officer
inside as he remembered the training he had received
in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed
"Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The
laundry company had been there that morning and had
left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape
to bind the wound.
"Hey, they say duct tape can fix anything'," he said,
trying to make the policeman feel at ease. "Something
for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills
he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put
some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.
"You hang in there. I'm going to get you an
ambulance." George said, but the phone was dead.
"Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there
talk box out in your police car."
He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into
the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went
back in to find the policeman sitting up.
"Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me
there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."
George sat down beside him. "I would never leave an
injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you."
George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding.
"Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right
through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff
though. I think with time your gonna be right as
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you
take it?" he asked.
"None for me," said the officer.
"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city." Then
George added: "Too bad I ain't got no donuts."
The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The
front door of the office flew open. In burst a young
man with a gun.
"Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man
yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell
that he had never done anything like this before.
"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.
"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George. "You
need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get
The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll
shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!" The cop was
reaching for his gun.
"Put that thing away," George said to the cop. "We
got one too many in here now."
He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's
Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then,
here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that
pee shooter away."
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to
the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at
the same time. The young man released his grip on the
gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.
"I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to
buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've
lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed
George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in
a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard
sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on
a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid
things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee.
"Being stupid is one of the things that makes us
human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer.
Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing
The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to
the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm
"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.
George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A
police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two
cops came through the door, guns drawn.
"Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded
"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you
"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced
bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he
approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off
into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each
other. "That guy works here," the wounded cop
"Yep," George said. "Just hired him this morning.
Boy lost his job."
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the
stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop
and whispered, "Why?"
Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas, boy. And you too,
George, and thanks for everything."
"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there.
That ought to solve some of your problems." George
went into the back room and came out with a box. He
pulled out a ring box.
"Here you go. Something for the little woman. I
don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come
in handy some day."
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond
ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young
man. "It means something to you."
"And now it means something to you," replied George.
"I got my memories. That's all I need."
George reached into the box again. A toy airplane, a
racing car and a little metal truck appeared next.
They were toys that the oil company had left for him
to sell. "Here's something for that little man of
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the
$150 that the old man had handed him earlier. "And
what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with?
You keep that, too. Count it as part of your first
week's pay." George said. "Now git home to your
The young man turned with tears streaming down his
face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that
job offer is still good."
"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See
ya the day after."
George turned around to find that the stranger had
returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"
"I have been here. I have always been here," said the
stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas.
"Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn't see
what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all
seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies
like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by
myself and besides I was getting a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But
you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me
food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and
hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he
will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people
from being killed by terrorists. The young man who
tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his
wealth with many people.
That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as
good as any man."
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said.
"And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.
"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this
sort of thing. And when your days are done you will
be with Martha again." The stranger moved toward the
"If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I
have to go home where there is a big celebration
George watched as the man's old leather jacket and his
torn pants turned into a white robe. A golden light
began to fill the room.
"You see, George, it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."
On the last day before Christmas, I hurried to go to
the supermarket to buy the remaining of the gifts I
didn't manage to buy earlier. When I saw all the people there, I
started to complain to myself: It is going to take forever here
and I still have so many other places to go.
Christmas really is getting more and more annoying every year.
How I wish I could just lie down, go to sleep and only wake up
after it...' Nonetheless, I made my way to the toy section, and
there I started to curse the prices, wondering if after all
kids really play with such expensive toys. While looking in the
toy section, I noticed a small boy of about five years old, pressing
a doll against his chest. He kept on touching the hair of the
doll and looked so sad.
I wondered who this doll was for.
Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him:
"Granny, are you sure I don't have enough money?"
The old lady replied: "You know that you don't have
enough money to buy this doll, my dear."
Then she asked him to stay there for five minutes
while she went to look around.
She left quickly. The little boy was still holding
the doll in his hand. Finally, I started to walk towards him and
I asked him who he wanted to give this doll to.
"It is the doll that my sister loved most and wanted
so much for this Christmas.
She was so sure that Santa Claus would bring it to her."
I replied to him that maybe Santa Claus will bring it to her
after all, and not to worry. But he replied to me sadly.
"No, Santa Claus cannot bring it to her where she is now.
I have to give the doll to my mother so that she can
give it to her when she goes there."
His eyes were so sad while saying this.
"My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that
Mummy will also go to see God very soon, so I thought that she
could take the doll with her to give it to my sister".
My heart nearly stopped.
The little boy looked me and said:
"I told daddy to tell mummy not to go yet.
I asked him to wait until I came back from the supermarket."
Then he showed me a very nice photo of him where he was laughing.
He then told me:
"I also want mummy to take this photo with her so
that she will not forget me. I love my mummy and I wish she didn't
have to leave me but daddy says that she has to go to be with
my little sister". Then he looked again at the doll with sad
eyes, very quietly. I quickly reached for my wallet and took a
few bills and said to that, "What if we checked again, just in
case if you have enough money?" "Ok" he said. "I hope that I
I added some of my money to his without him seeing
and we started to count it. There was enough for the doll,
and even some left over.
The little boy said: "Thank you God for giving me
Then he looked at me and added: "I asked yesterday
before I went to sleep for God to make sure I have enough money to
buy this doll so that mummy can give it to my sister.
He heard me.
I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my
mummy, but didn't dare to ask God too much.
But He gave me enough to buy the doll and the white rose."
"You know, my mummy loves white roses".
A few minutes later, the old lady came back again and
I left with my trolley. I finished my shopping in a totally
different state from when I started. I couldn't get the little
boy out of my mind.
Then I remembered a local newspaper article two days
ago, which mentioned of a drunk man in a truck who hit a car
where there was one young lady and a little girl. The little
girl died right away, and the mother was left in a critical
The family had to decide whether to pull the plug on
the life-assisting machine, because the young lady would not
be able to get out of the coma. Was this the family of the
Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I
read in the newspaper that the young lady had passed away. I
couldn't stop myself and went to buy a bunch of white roses and I
went to the mortuary where the body of the young woman was exposed for
people to see and make last wish before burial.
She was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in
her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed
over her chest.
I left the place crying, feeling that my life had been changed forever.
The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister
is still, to this day, hard to imagine. And in a fraction of a
second, a drunk man had taken all this away from him.
"And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free."
-- Jesus of Nazareth
Source: Holy Bible, John 8:32
For those who Believe.
True Christmas Meaning
T housands of years ago, R evealed by prophets of the past, U nder the dark and starry night, E mmanuel was born at last.
C overed in His swaddling clothes, H onor was given to the newborn King, R epresenting peace and goodwill to all men, I t’s because of Him that the angels did sing. S ent by King Herod to find Him, T hree wise men were led by a star, M yrrh, gold and frankincense were given, A s gifts from the men from afar. S tanding in awe at the manger,