Christmas Eve had finally arrived. Our children had many gifts
under the tree and Santa would bring even more. My husband, a young policeman serving in the RCMP, was working that Christmas
Eve, so our annual Newfoundland Chowder and Newfoundland Food Open House was rescheduled. The children were already in bed
and the house was quiet and comfortable.
Outside the night was bitterly cold and blustery, but the
Christmas lights looked festive. Our street had homes that lacked for nothing, at Christmas time or otherwise. We were all
baby boomers with double incomes and two children families who were enjoying life to the fullest. I knew that for some Christmas
was dreadfully excessive, the very thing I disliked about it, and still do. There would be too much food, drink, parties that
cost a fortune, and limitless gifts. Our lives were full as we worked and raised our families.
But, as for me, I knew about being poor, from some of my patients
and certainly from my mother, who suffered through a rough and poor childhood, stories about which she shared with us. She
always says, even now at the age of 79, that even if she has “a tube of toothpaste to unwrap on Christmas morning,”
she’ll appreciate it. She had many Christmas mornings with nothing whatsoever. We always made sure she had a gift, and
my father has always treated her lovingly. She appreciates it so much and shares with others.
As I was thinking all of these things over in my mind, I began
to wonder about my husband. During supper he had received an emergency call and left hastily. I always hated those calls.
I knew he got them all the time but I would rather not know. I was concerned for him and wondered what mess he had to deal
with this Christmas Eve. The last Christmas he worked he had the terrible job of taking a clergy man with him to tell a woman
her husband had been killed. It was so very difficult for him to say the least, his soft heart often made some situations
very difficult for him. But, being a nurse, I understood exactly what he was going through. Sometimes he would talk, and at
other times he would just not verbalize anything, becoming very distant and quiet. I found that extremely difficult.
He had no time to spare he explained as he removed his heavy
clothes and proceeded to tell me the story as he plunged under the Christmas tree. He gave me instructions to make up a food
box and get the clothing that was ready to go to the Goodwill Store packed for him to take with him. I went into action and
listened as he told his sad story.
His call during supper had been a domestic dispute. The two
parents and another couple were drunk, the Christmas tree had been destroyed in the drunken brawl, no gifts were anywhere
to be seen, and the heartbreaker for him was the two little children sound asleep in snow suits, with nothing on their feet,
sleeping on a urine-soaked mattress on the floor. The house was freezing, and everything in a state of disarray, the only
ornaments were beer bottles. There would be no Christmas for these six and four-year-old beautiful children. That they had
not awakened when the police were breaking up the fight and arresting their parents showed they were accustomed to this type
I knew the family through my work and knew this was a common
occurrence in that household. The one shining light was a sister-in-law who arrived to take the children. She put warm blankets
she had brought around the two tender children and took them away to her home. She was used to this she told the police. But
her concern was that she had no clothing, gifts, or extra goodies on hand, having four children herself. My husband and his
fellow officer said they would do what they could.
So this was how I found myself sitting with my ashen faced,
distressed policeman husband that Christmas Eve. He pulled out one gift after another from underneath the tree and passed
it to me to see if it was something for a child. Our children had more than enough, those gifts would not be missed, but they
would make Christmas for two unfortunate children, whose Christmas had been stolen by drunken parents. One by one we made
a pile of little gifts, I gathered up some of my daughter’s many stuffed toys, pulled out two warm blankets, and together
we had a Christmas made for two children, all in half an hour.
When he thought he had enough, he turned the police cruiser
into a Santa sleigh and left. The children, in spite of all, would have a visit from Santa, the two policemen would see to
that. By the time the parents were released from the drunk tank the next day, their children would be celebrating Christmas
at their aunt’s home.
It would be a Christmas for them, a Christmas kindly provided
right down to the last detail, by two Santas who did not wear full red suits but often wore bright red coats.