Yearning for a new Christmas story to get you in the spirit? I heard this heartwarming story on NPR radio last night and, in the spirit of the Christmas season, want to share it with you:
It was Christmas Eve in 1967, and 15-year old William Weaver was walking his dog in his Knoxville, Tennessee neighborhood. Suddenly, from around the corner, he saw a boy pedaling down the street on an all-too-familiar-looking bicycle.
William thought to himself that the bike sure looked like his younger brother’s, so when he got home he asked his brother, ten-year old Wayne, where his bike was. Wayne replied, “It’s down the stairs leading to the basement.” But when William went to look, it wasn’t there.
So the Weaver boys, determined to get Wayne’s bicycle back, agreed that they were going to make it their business to track down where the boy William had seen riding the bike lived. It turned out he lived in a very dinghy shack in an alley several blocks from their own home. The boys made plans as to their next move.
William said, “My brother and I were going to beat the boy up, but my father was there and told us to let him handle the situation.”
As they approached the shack, an elderly man with a cane appeared. The man asked the two boys and their father to come in. The house was in very poor condition.
William and Weaver listened as their father and the old man talked. They learned that it was, in fact, the old man’s grandson, Joseph, who had stolen Wayne’s bicycle.
It turns out that little Joseph was the same age as Wayne. When his grandfather asked him if he had stolen the bike, the boy started crying as he said, “I just wanted something for Christmas.”
William and Weaver took their bike and went home. Their father stayed awhile to talk a little more with the old man and young Joseph.
When the father got home he told his wife what had happened. William recalls, “My mom didn’t say a word. She just started cutting our Christmas Eve turkey with all the fixings in half and then packed it up. My dad went to the coal yard and came back with a big bag of coal. And then he told my brother, ‘You’ve got another bike around here somewhere, don’t you?’ “My brother nodded his head up and down.”
William, Wayne, and their parents returned to the shack in the alley with turkey (and all the fixings!) and a big bag of coal so that the old man and his grandson could have some heat.
They also had the bike with them. Joseph, understanding what was happening, began to smile for joy. But the thing that moved William the most was the reaction of Joseph’s grandfather when his dad gave the old man $20, a very big deal back then, and wished him a Merry Christmas.
The old man, William recalls, said, “Thank you and broke down in tears.”
William also shared this last bit of Christmas cheer: “My father was a chauffeur, my mother a maid. We certainly didn’t have a lot of stuff. But we had more than the old man and his grandson, that’s for sure. I really don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year, but what I do know is that what my family did in sharing what we had made me feel better than any Christmas I’ve ever had.”
Once again, we learn that the true meaning of Christmas lies not in what you get, but in the joy you receive in giving.