8: Mom’s Secret Mission

8: Mom’s Secret Mission

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

Mom’s Secret Mission

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

~Abraham Joshua Heschel

My mother grabbed her car keys and said, “Be back in a few hours.”

“Where are you going?” I asked, puzzled that she’d be leaving on the busiest day of the year — Christmas Eve.

“There’s an errand or two that I forgot to do. Be back soon,” she said as she scurried out the back door.

Since we had company coming for Christmas dinner the next day, there were still things to do. I asked my dad if Mom had left us a to-do list, and he said no. We both knew that something was up.

“Maybe she forgot to get someone a gift,” he said.

“You know how she despises going out on Christmas Eve,” I reminded him. Mom never failed to start her shopping in August and was finished with her list by Thanksgiving.

Her temporary absence was indeed a mystery.

She was back at the house a few hours later, just as she had promised, and I asked if she got her errands done.

“Yes,” was all that she would say, and I didn’t feel like pressing. Maybe she had gone out to get that telescope that I wanted.

The next year, my mother disappeared again during the day on Christmas Eve. She continued to do so every year for the rest of her life. We didn’t question it anymore.

The year she passed away I got a sweet letter from a man named Robert, who wanted me to know what my mother had done for him and his family for the last seven years.

Dear Johnny,

I just wanted you to know how much my family and I appreciate what your mother has done for us for all these years. Every year on Christmas Eve day your mom comes to my house dressed like Mrs. Claus and gives my kids a Christmas that we can’t afford to give them. She has given them shoes, shirts, jeans, toys, and candy. I know your heart is heavy and that you are missing Miss Sue. We do, too. We loved her and just wanted you to know what she has done for us.


Robert and Nellie and the kids

That short note was the best gift that I ever received from anyone, better even than that silly old telescope.

~John Dorroh

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