Lynn Baker called me with this story. Her grandmother grew up on a farm in Gorham, Maine. The boy who was to become Lynn’s grandfather was a hired hand there. So they knew each other as teenagers.
One of the other hired hands -- a man named Bert -- was likeable but a little slow. At Christmas time, Bert refused to hang up his stocking with the others because he said, “Ain’t no such thing as Santa Claus.” The teenagers insisted there was indeed such a thing and if Bert hung a stocking he’d be rewarded. Bert was adamant: “Ain’t no such thing as Santa Claus. No such thing.“
Finally, they persuaded him that there wouldn’t be any harm in at least hanging a stocking. So he did.
The teenagers filled the stocking with the usual: candies, fruit, etc., with some sprigs of holly stuffed in the top for good measure.
They got up early and waited for Bert to come down the stairs from his room. All the way down he was mumbling, “Ain’t no such thing as Santa Claus. Ain’t nothin’ gonna be in it. No sir, I don’t think so. No such thing.”
He saw the fat stocking and realized, oh my, there’s something in there! He ran his hands all over it—toe-to-top, front to back. Finally he pulled the stocking from its peg and peered inside: “Aw hell, he says. Nothin’ but brush!”
But that’s not the end of the story. Lynn’s grandfather served in WWI. He was a conscientious objector assigned to the Red Cross -- an ambulance driver and letter carrier.
For his first wedding anniversary, he was in Europe. For a surprise he filled a cigar box with holly and mailed it to his bride.
She wrote back: “Aw hell, nothin’ but brush.”
Lynn said this was a beloved family story that she wanted to pass on. “Now,” she said. “It belongs to you.”
And, now, dear readers, it belongs to you, too.
PS: I’d sure love some more Christmas stories. Please write if you’ve got one to give away. And remember: The more you give a story away, the more it belongs to you. Happy holidays!
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