A Different Kind of Star
To appreciate fully the warmth of family and friends at Christmas, I am convinced that one, at some time in his or her life, must have experienced a Christmas without them. I remember such a Christmas Eve during the great depression. Homeless and penniless, I was wandering the country searching for a job.
This night, a cold one, I was in the railroad yards of a midwest town I no longer recall. To escape the penetrating cold, four other men and I climbed into a boxcar. Soon the train began to move and as it picked up speed, the wind pushed up through the cracks in the doors. The cold inside soon became as fierce as it had been outside. The car had been used for hauling flour and had some sheets of paper in it. We wrapped them around our shivering bodies, but we were still cold.
Then one young man with a Spanish accent said, “We make a star for warm. We sit on the floor back to back.”
He tucked the paper all around us and took a place for himself. We sat huddled there with knees drawn and toes pointed out. Gradually heat from our bodies spread from one man to another, warming us. The young fellow began to sing… “Noche de amor, noche de paz.” The rest of us joined in with the familiar words, “Silent night, holy night…” We sang for a long time, cozy and warm, until I dozed off, dreaming of other Christmases. When dawn came, and the train had stopped, we went our separate, lonely ways.
That was a long time ago and my Christmases are comfortable and happy ones now. But I’ve never forgotten those fellows who shared the boxcar with me, and I give thanks to them often. Especially to the young Spanish man who showed us that no matter how bleak and difficult circumstances may be, it is always possible to be warmed by the Christmas star.
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