something happened about which a story can be told. It might have been
about a princess, a homeless child, a poor but loving husband and
wife, or a cruel king.
I read them all, enjoying fairy tales as I do, yet nothing compares to
a tale that is true. Everyone has a tale to tell, whether it is about
one tiny little incident that is forever memorable, or about their
whole life, as a story of wonder, enchantment or surprise.
My whole life may not enchant anyone else, but it has always filled me
with wonder in a thousand little ways.
A long time ago, in a state far, far away, a beautiful young mother of
three happy and healthy children was contentedly practicing her talent
of making other women in her neighborhood as beautiful as they wanted
to be through the transformation of their locks. As the lovely Rose
LaRue washed and cut and curled, her children would play right outside
her window with the children of one of her clients and friends. It was
a beautiful day, a happy day. Rose had just received the good news
that what she was concerned about was not the big “C.” All was happy
in that little town this wonderful spring day.
As the budding flowers faded and the trees starting shedding their
colorful tiny sails of yellow, orange and red — which then drifted off
into the bluish-gray “ocean” in the crisp autumn sky — Rose was still
seen through her window, cutting or curling hair that was once limp
and lifeless, giving each client the gift of her talent and the gift
of her joy.
As the days and weeks rolled by and the little town was kissed by an
abundance of snowflakes, Rose was still there, watching out her window
to see her children happily playing in the snow with the children of
her client-friend. But all was not to end so peacefully this day. As
she completed the French twist before her, she mentioned that
something felt wrong and that she’d better go see her doctor that
afternoon. And so she did.
It was about a week or so before Christmas. Rose’s husband called her
clients and told them that Rose would be unable to do their holiday
hair; she was not well. He called her friend and told her the rest of
the story. The doctor who had seen her in the spring had misdiagnosed
her — she did indeed have breast cancer, now very advanced — and it
was too late to do anything about it now.
She was buried a couple of days before Christmas.
Her client-friend’s children wanted to go to the funeral, and they
did; it was the first time they had ever seen someone in a casket, and
it was someone they knew. It made a great impression on them. They
didn’t know what they could do to help their little playmates feel any
better this very sad Christmas, but they finally thought of something.
That was the Christmas the five of them stood out in the snow, beneath
Rose’s window, and sang Christmas carols to her husband and his three
now motherless (but never friendless) children.
We all sang for the spirit of their beautiful 26-year old mother and wife.
* * * * *
One Christmas season, many years ago, there was a woman who felt that
regardless of what she did not have, she still had so much that she
felt blessed indeed and wanted to share with others not so fortunate.
She went to a local church in that little snowy town nestled in the
Adirondack Mountains and asked if there might be a nearby family that
could use a little Christmas cheer. “Good heavens, dear lady, there
are hundreds of them! But there is one that is not too far away. What
did you have in mind?” said the kindly pastor of the church.
“I’m not sure — perhaps some food, some toys, and maybe a small
Christmas tree,” the woman replied.
“Okay,” said the clergyman, “can you gather up those things and be
here on Saturday morning?”
She did and she was, and off they went toward one particular family’s
home. It isn’t easy to forget a home that has no floor other than the
dirt beneath one’s feet, and no windows except flaps of burlap tacked
to the area around the open spaces in the walls, and no door except
for large pieces of cardboard held in place by broken and battered
bricks, and no beds except for shabby blankets on the floor. But it’s
even harder to forget the family who lived there.
As they walked in with the tree and the food and the presents, they
were deluged with the family’s cries of joy and thankfulness; and as
little as they had, each child immediately passed what he or she
received on to the child next to him before he would receive anything
As the woman was chatting with the father of the five young children,
she wondered out loud if there was anything she could do to help the
man find work to make their lot a little easier all around.
“Do you know what it takes to get work?” the man said. “People walk by
here and wonder why I’m not working and supporting my family. Let me
tell you something you might never have considered. We don’t have
running water, so I have to go fetch it over there every day, and we
can only hope it’s not too frozen to use. We can’t afford to buy soap,
so getting as clean as we want to be is a big problem. Even if we had
plenty of soap and water, I don’t have any clothes other than those,”
he said, gesturing toward what looked like a pile of dirty rags. “Who
would hire a dirty, smelly, poorly-dressed man? I’ve tried to get work
in town..,” he said, showing the woman his sorely worn-down soles,
“even though it takes two hours to walk there, but people turn away
when they see me coming. People like me need a place to clean up and
some decent clothes — even to borrow — just to look for a job, let
alone get one.”
The woman was startled. It never occurred to her that need goes so far
below the surface of “Why don’t you get a job?,” or “Why can’t you get
The woman thought of several charities that are “in business” to help
families like this:They would offer food, or clothes, or vouchers for
this or that, but the person in need had to go there to get them. What
about those who had no transportation, she wondered, or even no shoes,
and couldn’t walk there before their feet would give out or their
doors would close, even if they set out first thing in the morning —
and that would not take into consideration the long walk back. And
what about all those “watering holes” along the trail that would
forbid such a person from entering their premises even to get a glass
of water and use the facilities. What, indeed, do those people do? she
She looked back at the family enjoying the basket of food and the
gifts, and saw something that unfortunately is not that common, and
something that many well-off people might not ever have, no matter
their state of wealth: She saw a family that loved each other and
cared about each other and showed it. It was a picture of sharing, a
picture of gratitude, and a picture of love.
The little Christmas tree, decorated only with red and white bows,
stood in the corner, watching, and one could almost believe that the
tiny little silver star at the top was twinkling just for them.
* * * * *
It was just another Christmas Eve story, or so it seemed, as the
mother read to her children about the plight of orphans on Christmas
morning. “Forget about not getting the latest toy of your dreams,” she
reminded them as she closed the book about real life in an American
orphanage, “some children as you now know don’t even receive one
single present, not even a new pair of socks.”
She kissed her children and tucked them in for the night, imagining
that they would be dreaming of their own sugar plums in the form of
whatever toys they wanted.
On Christmas morning there was a delay in opening the gifts because
they were all waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive to share in
the ritual of breaking into the presents. At last they arrived,
bearing the usual armful of gifts for their grandchildren.
“Okay now children,” said Grandma, “I know you’re anxious to rip open
your gifts! But don’t make too big a mess!” she admonished, bringing a
plastic trash bin close to the tree.
The children looked at each other. They hadn’t exactly planned who was
going to be the spokesperson for what they had to say. So the oldest
one started and then one and all joined in to inform their
grandparents that this year, thank you very much for everything, but
what they wanted more than anything else was to visit the local
orphanage and give them all the presents they brought, still in their
Talk about memorable Christmas moments for a mother!
Whatever Christmas means to you, may it be merry… but most of all,
may it be bright!
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at email@example.com.