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  • Dec13Wed

    Knocks at the Door

    Surprise Christmas visits decades apart had one thing in common: The Salvation Army December 13, 2017 by Deirdre Caskanette
    Filed Under:
    Faith & Friends
    The Christmas of 1963 was coming far too quickly for our family that year. There was still so much to be done: cards to be sent, presents to be bought, decorations to be put up.

    On this day, however, my mother and I were going to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. Just me and Mum. What fun!

    Before we left, my mother gave me my allowance. Wow! A whole quarter to spend any way I wished. I’d probably get my two older sisters some licorice and candy canes again, and I’d already gotten Mum her gift. I’d gathered a year’s worth of the recipes the grocery store had put out for customers, and had assembled them in a binder. Our family didn’t have a lot of money to go around so I was pleased with my frugality.

    As we approached the department store, I heard the jingle of bells. Inside, a smiling woman was standing beside a plastic globe on a stand. It was half filled with bills and coins. This was the first Salvation Army kettle I had ever seen. Curious, I was told that the money collected would be used to purchase gifts for the less-fortunate children in our town. Although well aware of our own family’s low-income status, I promptly put in my quarter.

    “You won’t get any more money, you know!” my mother admonished.

    For a split second, I felt grief-stricken as now there would be no gifts for my sisters from me! But the warm smile of the Salvation Army volunteer and her “God bless you!” eased the ache in my heart.

    Mum grumbled a bit more about what I had done as we wove our way through throngs of shoppers, so I was glad to finally leave the store.

    At home with the rest of the family, my impromptu gift-giving was discussed. My parents were not into charitable giving and what I had done was not our family’s way of doing things. 

    After we put our groceries away, the doorbell rang. We weren’t expecting company, so who could it be? Dad went to answer the door with my curious 10-year-old self at his heels.

    On our doorstep stood two men, strangers to us, who identified themselves as Salvation Army volunteers. Beside them was a large box, which they insisted was meant for our family. Dad was flustered— we certainly had not ordered it, nor did we know anyone who had. What’s more, we were irregular churchgoers due to our father’s dislike of organized religion.

    Seeing my eagerness, Dad let me open the box. Much to our astonishment, it was filled with toys, books, puzzles and dolls. I named my new doll “Noelle.”

    Two Quarters, Two Decades
    Several years later, I became a Christian, in part because of the seeds of hope and faith planted in  my soul that special Christmas.

    But my story doesn’t end there. About 20 years later, I had another Christmas surprise. My husband and I heard that a small café in town was having a carol sing-along with homemade goodies, tea and coffee available for a donation. My husband was self-employed and most of his work was seasonal, so we weren’t exactly rich, but I gave what I had in my purse.

    You guessed it, a quarter.

    Between bites and singing, I told my husband about the Christmas of 1963. No sooner had we arrived home when there was a knock at the door. On our doorstep was an acquaintance, who was there to give us some Salvation Army food hampers, enough for our family and more. Without that unlooked for gift, we would have been hard-pressed to make it through Christmas.

    To this day, I continue to give as generously as I can to The Salvation Army and have been ever so blessed in doing so.

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