Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 17, 2007
Hope and charity blossomed into faith
Christmas during the Depression transformed a fragmented family
By ROSANNE FORTIER
- Design Pics photo
A glimmer of hope, dinner left on the doorstep and a dog named Clifford ignited the Christmas spirit in a Depression-ravaged family.
Melanie's heart felt empty. Her parents were living common-law. Visitors always asked to see pictures. Her mother always commented, "What if someone ask to see our wedding photo?" As a result, no one was allowed into their house. Even Santa Claus never made an appearance.
At first, she said nothing. Then she backed away from Mary. "I don't know. Santa Claus doesn't seem to know where our house is."
This conversation was soon interrupted because the teacher entered the room. She welcomed the class and they all got down to their daily assignments.
Meanwhile at their home, Dave was ruffling his hair with his hands. Melanie owned a few dolls that her Aunt gave to her. She wanted a dollhouse for Christmas but he never could afford one. Kim went to him and planted a kiss upon his cheek. "Hey, what was that for?" he asked.
"Just because I love you," she replied.
He would have married her but with his farming income, he couldn't afford the wedding. Besides, God was like Santa Claus. He didn't exist, so why did it matter?
Kim was nearby and flashing her biggest smile yet her eyes were fixed on a large cardboard box in the corner. She ran in miniature steps towards it as she hollered, "I have an idea. Boy! Do I have an idea." Michael placed his hands over his ears as he walked towards their bedroom.
- photo supplied
Clifford came in from the cold.
If there was one thing he didn't care to hear, it was another one of Melanie's fancy ideas.
Yet within minutes he felt her breath upon him. "Oh Dave. Melanie wants a dollhouse for Christmas. She's eight years old. Maybe if you design one from that cardboard box, she's be just as pleased as having a wooden one."
Upon hearing this, he felt like doing a jig. Now that was an idea! He could also create a wooden truck for Michael. Then he thought for a moment. How could he use this situation to the best of his advantage?
He glanced at his wife and replied, "Yes dear, as long as you don't invite your parents over for Christmas." If there was one thing he didn't need was her folks nagging him about his lifestyle.
"Don't do anything you're ashamed of," she said with a chuckle.
There was no more time to debate because soon the door cracked open and Melanie and Michael rushed in. "Mommy, it's so cold out there. Can't we let Clifford in?" they both shouted at once. Kim embraced them and said, "You're not allowed to bring him in. Come on. You know that. Now get inside and warm up."
Melanie crashed herself to the ground. If Clifford wasn't allowed inside, she didn't want to be in the house neither. She then got up and ran outside.
Kim headed after her but Dave put his arm in front of his wife. "Let her work this one out for herself," he said.
Melanie sat on the snow next to Clifford. He was lying down with his paw upon her knee. She patted his head. "I don't understand. You have feelings too. Why don't my parents understand that? Did you know that my mother believes in God but my Dad doesn't think God exists."
Clifford looked at her and barked loudly.
"You believe in God too. Don't you? Santa Claus is real but he never visits our house. My parents are so weird but you know that, don't you."
They continued to have this conversation until her mother hollered, "I just made some apple pie. Melanie come inside."
Melanie then left Clifford without saying goodbye.
The days leading up to Christmas continued to be cold, dark and bleak. Whenever Dave had a place to hide, he constructed the dollhouse. Since there were many boxes available, he added a lot of components to it. Then he even created some furniture.
Christmas Eve arrived. Their house was as quiet as ever. However when morning came, the children were squealing in delight. They rushed to their parent's room. "Mommy! Santa does exist. He gave me a dollhouse!" Melanie exclaimed as she jumped on the side of their bed.
Then Michael tugged at the bed sheets. "He brought me a toy trunk."
The kids then ran outside to see if Santa Claus left any trace of his entrance.
On the doorstep, there was a complete Christmas meal - mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, bread, cake and even cranberry sauce. However when Melanie lifted the lid, the food had been eaten on and Clifford came and was trying to sniff the meal.
"Mom! Dad! Come over here."
Their parents were soon on the doorsteps. "Oh dear," they cried. "I told you we should have kept Clifford inside," Melanie said.
The family still had a Merry Christmas. As far as Dave goes, he decided to take his family to Church that day. After all, if someone was kind enough to bring them a delicious meal, maybe God did exist.
They only decided to get married years later. Yes, Clifford was the one to enjoy that Christmas meal. He now remained inside when it was cold outside.
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