True Christmas Joy by Sarah Depledge


“Come along, my son- hurry along, my son,

Try to keep up with me.

We have a shop or two we’ll pop into,

Then Santa we’ll go see.”


He toddled right beside her,

Just above her knee,

He clutched onto her finger

And stared wide-eyed with glee.


Meager clothing labeled him

As a needy boy;

He was unaware of this,

And watched the world with joy.


She bagged some orange carrots

And bartered with the grocer,

“This pepper has a squishy spot-

Might you, please, take less, sir?”


They wove through mobs of shoppers,

And looked up at the tree,

Strings of lights and ribbons

Cascaded merrily.


Every branch bore ornaments,

Amid bright, sparkling lights,

The little boy stared wonderingly

As he beheld the sights.


He sat on Santa’s lap and shared

That he had just turned three,

Excited for the lollipop-

“Look what he gave me!”


His mother smiled as Santa said,

“You be both kind and good.”

He nodded and he promised:

He would do just as he should.


They walked on home and put the bag

Of vegetables away,

She started making supper,

While he began to play.


He made a lovely picture,

Drawn by his own hand.

She smiled and tied it on their tree,

With string to a bare strand.


“But Mama, it is all we have

Hanging on our tree.

The one we saw was jammed with things –

And it was so pretty.”


He pointed with his finger,

“That only fills an empty spot.”

She pulled him close and kissed him,

“With love we don’t need a lot.”


“Christmas belongs to everyone

Whether rich or poor;

It’s not about a tree, or things

You purchase at a store.


Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth

And the gift He brought,

When He paid for all our sins,

And became the gift, for us.”


He climbed into his rickety chair,

Folded his hands and prayed,

“Thank you, God, for our food,

And for this day You made.”


They ate their simple meal.

Worriedly she said,

“I wish I had more to give you –

Some meat, perhaps some bread.”


“I’m fine, Mama, really.

May I get down and play?”

“Indeed”, she said and kissed his head,

Blessed by his sweet way.


After a bit, she told him,

My son, it’s time to sleep.”

He yawned and gave her a big hug,

And crawled under the sheet.


She tucked the fabric round him

Trying to keep out the cold,

“I wish you had a blanket-

This sheet’s so worn and old.”


Assuring her, he touched her hand,

“I’m fine, Mama- toasty hot…

Besides, it’s like you said-

With love, we don’t need a lot.”


A tear fell down her cheek

That she quickly brushed away.

She laid beside her little boy,

And she began to pray,


“Dear God, I want to thank You,

For your many gifts to me.

For food to eat- even for this sheet-

And your gift on Calvary.”


The years passed swiftly, hard and lean,

All with little ease.

He grew up and she grew old,

A victim of disease.


Over time the difficult

Hardship took its toll;

She watched sadly as his joy,

The thief called Anger, stole.


She grew weak and he grew cold,

And deeper in despair.

In his temper at her fate,

He raged, “It is not fair!”


But her lips would only praise,

Despite her need and pain,

“Son, God has been so good to me,

Why should I complain?”


“Good?” he snarled, “Good, you say?

How can you believe?

We went without- I have my doubt

If God cares that we grieve.


The hardships of this world are cruel-

You suffer needlessly.

You may choose to trust in God-

I don’t – just let me be.”


In protest and in pleading,

She tried to help him see,

“My son, don’t grieve this life I leave –

Put a smile on your face for me.”


“Remember the truth you learned from youth

Of all that I have taught –

If we trust in Jesus’ gift of love

We really don’t need a lot.”


He could not give this joy to her

For destruction in his heart,

Had deepened over several years…

Soon, this life she did depart.


Alone and angry with the world,

The loss of her he felt.

Fed by his bitter, lonely lot,

His anger would not melt.


He employed every moment

Into money making schemes;

Clever thoughts and constant work

Turned reality from dreams.


Though rich with wealth, and good in health,

He enjoyed not his new treasure:

He harbored anger from his past

And rarely enjoyed pleasure.


Stiff and stingy, mean and hard

He cared not for another.

Lonely, dark and brooding,

He thought not about his mother.


One day he was walking home,

His usual, surly way

When he heard a little boy

To his mother say,


“Oh, Mama, please don’t worry-

My tummy is full enough-

I love you, and it’s like you say,

‘With Jesus, we don’t need ‘stuff.'”


The man gasped as he remembered,

Words from long before,

That expressed his faith in Jesus,

Despite pain at his door.


He glimpsed the boy whose simple trust

Pierced through his bitter haze:

Love shone like a beacon

From the mother’s smiling gaze.


Crippled and in clear need,

The pair stood close together,

Hands clasped in prayerful trust

A sweet boy and his mother.


Much in need of earthly things,

But Faith their biggest treasure;

The man’s convicted heart

Warmed a noticeable measure.


Contrite, he felt a tear

Coursing down his face;

How had he let all his hurt

Let all his joy, erase?


Hadn’t his mother’s example been

To trust in God above?

Despite the heartaches of this world,

To have faith in Jesus’s love?


New softness shone upon his face,

A smile replaced his frown

He almost became giddy,

Touched by the hope he’d found.


He dug into his pockets,

Gave them all that he had there,

“Thank you, sir! May God be praised!

And bless you for your care!”


He danced a little step,

His eyes – they twinkled brightly,

He tipped his hat, light-hearted,

And walked the street more sprightly.


Freed from hate’s dark bondage,

He raised his voice in praise,

“I’d forgotten what joy feels like!”

He marveled, in a daze.


He greeted those around him,

Gave to all with generous heart;

Lightened from his burden:

He’d been granted a fresh start.


A few nights later on Christmas Eve,

He was kneeling near her grave.

“Mother, thank you for the life you led,

And for the love you gave.”


The tears that fell upon the stone

Bearing record of her name,

Were softened by his gentle cry,

And his heartfelt shame.


“It took a while for me to learn

What you tried to teach,

This life is hard, but we have hope,

That’s far beyond death’s reach.


I wish it hadn’t taken me

So long to embrace the truth;

I came tonight to thank you,

For teaching me from youth.


You were right – it is true

Now Jesus is my Savior.

I trust in him alone,

And rejoice in his favor.


Know some day I’ll join you and

Be blessed, oh, Mother, dear,

For I have learned to trust in God

Now, death I do not fear.


Late I come, with this last hope –

That somehow you may see,

The smile on my face you wished,

But I would not grant thee.”


Like windows into Heaven,

Stars were twinkling in the night,

And he imagined she gazed down

At him with great delight.


He left there with a firmer step,

And comfort on his part.

For he was sure his mother knew

That Love had pierced his heart.


He thought back to the words of Christ

He’d heard from long ago,

Wishing he hadn’t forgotten

Or time had wasted so:


“Peace I leave you, peace on Earth;

Not like the world can give-

Let all who come to Me have rest,

And all who come, will Live.”


So, this Christmas season,

May Joy be in your heart,

For we have hope beyond the grave,

Through Christ, a brand-new start!


~ sarah depledge