The meaning of Christmas: Part 2

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Last week in part #1, we met George….a widower who ran a gas station where he had fed and comforted a homeless man; loaned a vehicle to a Hispanic family with the wife in labor; heard gunshots and rushed outside on a cold Christmas Eve to find a wounded police officer; and, as part 1 ended, the front door of the office flew open and in burst a young man with a gun. “Give me all your cash and do it now,” he yelled.

George saw that the young man’s hand was shaking and 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.

The young man was confused. “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!”

“Son, it’s Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pea shooter away,” said George.

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. “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 last week.”

“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,” George said. “Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop, saying, “Sorry I shot you. It just went off.”

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 officer, adding they had found him through the GPS tracker on his squad car.

“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.

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.”

George went into the back room and came out with 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.

In another box was a toy airplane, a car and a truck, items the oil company had left for him to sell.

“Here’s something for that little man of yours,” George told the young father.

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,” George said, “Now git home to your family.”

George turned around to find that the homeless man had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left,” he asked.

“I have been here. I have always been here,” said the stranger. “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. 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 make you a rich man and not take any for himself.”

“And how do you know all this,” asked George, as the homeless man turned to leave.

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

“You see, George … it’s my birthday. Merry Christmas!”

And Merry Christmas to all my readers. May this story serve as a reminder as to the real reason for the season.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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