My New Friend

My New Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

My New Friend

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

~Anne Frank

When I used to think of Christmas, I thought of presents, cookies, decorations, and a huge tree. Now I think of Christmas as a time to spend with your family and appreciate what you have. My vision of this holiday changed one remarkable night.

My parents had told my brother and me that we were working at the homeless shelter on Christmas Eve to help with the dinner. Honestly, I could not believe what my parents wanted to do and I threw a fit. I was only nine years old, but still, looking back on that behavior shocks me. As I walked into the homeless shelter and saw about thirty homeless men and women gathered around their tables singing holiday carols with smiles spread across their cheerful faces, my heart melted. Just this sight changed my whole attitude about not being home on Christmas Eve.

I headed to the kitchen and started making plates of turkey and mashed potatoes. As I piled the mashed potatoes on each plate I looked outside the window to see each and every person’s eyes sparkle and their mouths move to the words of “Jingle Bells.” I remember just wanting to go out there and sing along with them. I looked past all the differences I had with them and just felt like they were family. As the carols died down, we started to bring out the food that was on plastic plates with a Santa in the middle. Every single person would smile and thank me once I put their food down and wish me a Merry Christmas.

One specific man really touched me. As I set down his plate he said, “Thank you sweetie.” Now this was not unusual — basically everyone there said it, but then he said to me, “You know, this is very kind what you are doing for us. Not many people would help us out, or even want to get close to us. You’re a real angel for doing this. I remember when I was your age I would keep my distance from homeless people, but it’s reassuring for me to see a young girl like you help us out. Thank you and Merry Christmas.”

I was at a loss for words but I managed to say, “Thank you very much. Merry Christmas to you too.”

When we left to go home I turned back to look for that nice man. I saw him in the corner bundled up with one thin blanket and a two-inch pillow. Tears blurred my vision; all I wanted to do was stay with him, bring him my big comforter I sleep with at night that I usually push to the side of my bed, and give him someone to talk to. But I had to keep walking out to our car. Now I never wanted to leave, and I couldn’t believe I had complained that I didn’t want to come.

I got home and as I sat down to eat a pizza with my family for Christmas Eve dinner I started crying my eyes out just thinking about the night I had, the smiles on the people’s faces, and most of all the friend I had made. The man who I will never forget, who said the words I will carry with me forever.

I snuck downstairs that night, not to check for Santa, but to take away the letter I wrote him and write a new one. It said:

Dear Santa,

I wrote you a letter earlier, but I am writing a new one now. Please take care of the man I met earlier and give him some of my gifts that you were bringing me. Please keep him safe from the outdoors and make sure he is happy. That’s all I want this year. You can still bring me presents, but the one thing I want is for you to look out for my new friend.



My vision of everything had changed that night. Christmas is now the time I think about my friend, and how lucky I am to have what I have. It’s not the time to worry about the new bike I want anymore; it’s time to worry about how my friend is and if he realizes how he changed my life.

~Erin McCormack, 13

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