Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Carroll Bryant's Favorite Christmas Story

I was 26 years old, and always hung out at my older sister's house. She lived across the street from this woman and her two kids, two girls ages 13 and 8.

On the evening of December 23rd, I was at my sister's house. When I entered the door, she was sitting at the kitchen table sewing a coat. The coat belonged to the 13 year old across the street, Natasha. It had gotten ripped earlier that day and my sister was "patching" it up for her.

The coat looked old and worn. Natasha's mother struggled to pay bills, and couldn't afford a whole lot although she did the best she could. She was divorced and had a dead beat ex husband who provided very little for his children.

Me, my sister and my mother had bought the girls some Christmas items in fear of them maybe not getting much from their financially strapped mother and dead beat dad. For the 8 year old, we bought toys. For Natasha, we bought a portable CD player and some musical CD's.

As I watched my sister sew, I started to think that Natasha could probably use a nicer coat. That's about as far as I went with it at first although, my sister agreed, that old coat she was repairing had seen much better days. 

For some reason, the next day at work, I couldn't get that old coat out of my mind. I worked half a day when we got let out. On my way home, I saw a car pulled off to the side of a busy highway on Christmas Eve afternoon. I pulled over to help. It was a doctor with a flat tire. He was extremely well dressed and me in my work clothes, he offered me fifty dollars if I would change his tire for him so he wouldn't have to get his nice clothes dirty.

At first I was hesitant but then, I said okay. I changed his tire and he handed over the money. "I hope that money helps you this Christmas." He said. I smiled. He must have thought I was poor or something. I told him, "It will bring someone joy. I am going to use this money to buy a young lady a coat for Christmas." I told him. Then I told him the whole story.

The man liked my story so much that he gave another fifty dollars and said, "Buy her a really nice one."

I was suppose to go to my mother's that evening, but first, I swung by my sister's. She had already left to go to moms house, but I was there to see Natasha. I walked into the house and told her mother, "I'm borrowing your daughter for a couple of hours." She looked at me. "Where are you taking her?"

"Shopping." I said. "I'm going to let her pick out her new coat."

Natasha overheard and quickly jumped to her feet in joy. Her mother tried to argue. "No, I will not accept charity."

"It's not charity." I explained, then told her what occurred earlier that day. The woman placed her hands over her face and tears started forming in her eyes. She went to hug me. "Thank you."

Before long, Natasha and I were at the mall and she got to pick out her new coat. It was green and went all the way down to her ankles. I also bought her a neck scarf and gloves to match the coat, along with a Christmas broach to pin to the coat. I never saw a girl so excited before over a new coat.

It quickly dawned on me how much I took for granted in life. Something like a coat never occurred to me would be such a wonderful gift for someone. Natasha was so happy, she wanted to put the coat on when we walked back to the car. Once she did, she modeled it for a moment. "It's you." I told her, then she lunged at me and hugged me. "I love it. Thanks so much, Carroll."

I finally made it to my mothers house to see mom and my little sister and as it was tradition then, I spent the night. I wouldn't see Natasha again until school started back up in January and I went to pick her and my nephew up at school one day to take them home. Something I would sometimes do for my sister. 

When school let out, I was waiting outside the car when my nephew and Natasha emerged from the building and they walked straight to me. My nephew and I "high five" each other but Natasha, once again, approached and gave me a monster hug. "I love this coat." She said yet again.

I didn't see much of her after that as I went to live in Daytona Beach for a while, but I heard her grades went from D's and C's to mostly B's. Sometimes I wonder if it wasn't because of the coat. She finally had something to wear that wasn't old and worn and looking its age. Her confidence level shot up after that Christmas. Or so I was told, which was surprising because she was such a beautiful young lady as it were. But it is amazing that something like a coat would mean so much to someone as it appeared to mean to her. Sure, she liked the CD player and CD's, but man, did she ever love that green coat.

That is my favorite Christmas.

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