My First Christmas

snow

First, I want to say “Happy Holidays!” to all of you! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, New Year and a great 2015!

Now, I would like to tell you the story of my first Christmas. When I was preparing to post this story, I could still feel all the emotions I had gone through at that night. It was a magical night that I would never forget.
* * *
Christmas came to me unexpectedly in 1962, when I was 11.

My family was poor. We seldom went any place. Biking was my favorite activity. On December 24, I left home after lunch. Like any other day, I didn’t have a destination, simply following the traffic lights: red light meant turn to the right, green light meant go straight ahead. Thirty minutes later I was getting tired and decided to turn around. That was when I saw my classmate Lin’s house. I had never visited her before, but I stopped at her house that afternoon as if an unseen force beckoned me.

Lin’s father was a medical doctor. They lived in a beautiful two-story building. When Lin saw me, she froze for a moment. “What brings you here?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. I felt a little embarrassed. Quickly, I added, “I won’t stay long.”

She had a big smile on her face. “Can you come to the church with me tonight? My whole family is going, and I want you to be my guest.”

“I’m not sure. I’ve never been to a church before.”

“Nothing to worry about. We’re having a Christmas program tonight. Just come. It will be fine,” she assured me.

I leaned forward whispering, “What is Christmas?”

“The birth of Jesus Christ.” She looked at me, frowning. “Don’t you know?”

“Oh.” I decided not to ask another question. “Sure I’ll come.”

“Come back at seven.”

* * *

After dinner, I went back to Lin’s house, wearing my hand-me-down coat. Lin wore a red sweater over a white shirt with a pair of gray wool pants. She looked pretty.

When we arrived at the church, I learned that Lin was a member of the youth choir group and her group was going to perform Christmas songs that night. While I was busy watching some girls fixing their hair, Lin went to talk to the minister. I saw him nodding his head. When they were done talking, Lin introduced me to Mr. Chu.

“Would you like to sing with the choir?” he asked.

“I can’t. I don’t know any of these songs.” I wanted so much to join them. I was disappointed that I couldn’t.

“That’s okay. You can still be part of the group.” He smiled.

Ten minutes later, I stood on the stage next to Lin, shaking hands holding the music notes. I tried to sing by listening carefully on the sounds coming out of Lin’s mouth, and at the same time swinging my body side to side like the rest of group. At the end of the performance, choir members held hands. I extended mine too. I was one of them. I felt a deep sense of belonging.

Afterwards, we crammed into a small room behind the stage, excitedly talking and laughing. A lady who worked for Mr. Chu started handing out individual bags of candy to everyone in the choir. When she reached me, her hands were empty.

She turned to the minister. “We’re short one bag of candy. I don’t know what happened.” She turned to me and said, “I am sorry, dear.”

“That’s okay. I’m not a member,” I said quietly.

“Sure we have enough,” the minister said. He hurriedly grabbed an empty bag and asked each member drop some candies into the bag. Lin put a handful of her candies into it. One boy nearly emptied his.

“Merry Christmas.” Mr. Chu put the bag into my cold hands and insisted that I keep it.

I accepted the gift, the very first gift I had ever received from anyone other than my parents. After thanking them, I hurried home. I’d never been able to give my mother a gift, and was eager to give her this bag of candy.

In the dark, I pedaled the rusted bike hard.

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About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir, photo, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to My First Christmas

  1. A beautiful story. I hope the joy of giving is still with you today! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sunsetdragon says:

    What wonderful memories you have of your first Christmas and the kindnesses of others int eh church. TY for sharing this with us.
    A very merry Christmas and many blessings you way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay says:

    Helen, this is the most beautiful story… oh, my goodness. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. I so wish you lived close by so I could give you a big hug!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Lois. I wish you live by close too, so I can learn “how to give” from you. I am easy to get intimidated ;-( Merry Christmas; Happy New Year and have a great 2015!!! Helen

      Like

  4. A beautiful story indeed. I wasn’t sure if it was a true story until i read the comments. I thiought it might be a piece of fiction, a delightful piece either way.
    Merry Christmas Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Dawn. Merry Christmas to you and your family, too. It was a true story. There are a lot of unexplainable things in our lives and this was one of mine. It was one of a few times I visited any classmates, first time I went out with a friend… I was very shy. Sometime, I still wonder what had happened on that day, but it doesn’t matter how it happened, it is one of most memorable days in my life for sure. . 😉 Helen

      Like

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Helen, beautiful story, I’m glad Lin was on your way that day. Are you still friends, maybe not after all these years. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Elizabeth. Merry Christmas to you and your family too. We lost touch many years ago. I have tried to go back to her old home, googled… several times, but couldn’t find her. I don’t think she knew what that night meant to me. I hope I’ll find her one of these days. Helen

      Like

  6. neihtn2012 says:

    Beautiful, moving story! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cee Neuner says:

    Such a sweet story. I bet Christmas was a foreign concept to you back then. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Cee. You are right – I didn’t know anything about Christmas at the time. I had no idea what church was for either. It’s a sweet memory. 😉 Helen

      Like

  8. seeker says:

    I am so glad you went riding, saw Lin and said YES to the invitation of Jesus’ spirit speaking through her. Thank you for sharing your first Christmas worth remembering. May you be continously blessed. Marry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Merry Christmas, Perpetua. Thank you so much! I am glad that I went with Lin that day too. They really touched my heart and in a way made me who I am. There sure are a lot of nice people out there! Helen

      Liked by 1 person

  9. seeker says:

    Reblogged this on The Seeker and commented:
    I love Christmas stories and this is worth sharing. What is your story?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. pix & kardz says:

    enjoyed this story! Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. evenretep says:

    Like you Helen we were very poor as children my first Christmas I remember, like you I was 11 and my mother had divorced my father two years previous and had remarried and things changed for the first time we had security, we still lived in the back of shop store which was purchased 6 month previous and for the first time we somewhere proper to live, with the outside toilet now inside with a bathroom, no more baths in front of the fire.
    My siblings and I woke early when I say early we must have been woken with my mother and step father going to bed, we sneaked down and in front of us laid out was a sea of boxes which was soon a tidal wave of wrapping paper and gifts we could only have dreamed of, then the noise of footsteps on the bare wooden stairs and mother and stepfather stood, with a very disaproving look, it was 1.15am, we were husseled back to bed and warned not to get out of bed. My first remembered Christmas, no violence, no plates hitting the wall, they are the things that fill my memories, is there any wonder I cannot remember the Christmases that has gone before.

    We all hide memories away but always keep the ones that make us feel ‘normal’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Interestingly, even though we were poor, I didn’t know about it until I was much older. We seldom went out to play with other kids, so I didn’t really had a chance to compare our lives with others. I honest thought everyone lived at the same condition like we did. 😉

      I am not sure we hide memories away. I think I have made a decision to only think about the good ones 😉 Merry Christmas. Helen

      Like

      • evenretep says:

        Where I lived most of the people were connected with fishing, on trawlers, on the fishdocks, in the many fish houses or in the many food processing food factories, so money for many was scarce mixed with violence, we were one of the lucky families. Take care, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Helen C says:

          Good morning, Pete. I think I have seen those fishing community in movies. It is a tough environment. But I believe we, humans, are survivors. We adapt. Of course, if we can help each other, it would be much better.
          Take care of yourself, too. Helen

          Like

  12. mrsbearfoot says:

    What a beautiful story/memory! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day today. Your snowy image is gorgeous!

    Lindy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Lindy. I had a wonderful Christmas day. Went to see Hero-6 with my daughter. I am not a cartoon person, but I enjoyed this movie a lot. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas day too. And wonderful today, tomorrow, 2015… 😉 Helen

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sue says:

    This story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this wonderful memory – this is what we need to remember Christmas is supposed to be. May you have a blessed new year and many more Christmases.
    Sue
    PS – love the photo too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Sue. Thank you for your warm comment. I wrote this story several years ago. While revising it to post here, I had tears in my eyes too. I don’t know why… kind people always move me and make me cry. Hope you have a happy new year and a wonderful 2015! Helen

      Liked by 1 person

  14. susanstudier says:

    Helen, I just read the story and it is the BEST STORY EVER!!!!! Can I share it on my Facebook page? You have many memorable stories; have you thought about compiling them into a book?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. joannesisco says:

    Thank you Helen for sharing this story … it’s so beautiful to be reminded that small acts of kindness leave a deep and lasting impression. How wonderful for you that you got to experience that joy and pleasure … and then play it forward to your mother! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. treerabold says:

    What a beautiful story Helen! It brought tears to my eyes. The kindness of your friend, her church and you (for sharing your gift with your mom) are wonderful.
    Merry Christmas to you my friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sue Slaght says:

    Helen I have goosebumps after reading your post. Beautifully written and an amazing account of your first Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dalo 2013 says:

    Such a beautiful story Helen (and an incredible opening photo too ~ excellent). This is a perfect story to end the year thinking about and I can just imagine your feelings and happiness (and happiness of everyone, especially Lin who seemed excited to have you there). Excellent writing, so emotional. Wish you a great ’15.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. billgncs says:

    what a lovely story, thanks so much for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. rommel says:

    Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! One act of kindness can last a lifetime. Beautiful, Helen. One of the greatest blog stories I’ve read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Rommel. Thanks for your kind comment. Act of kindness, I have learned, requires courage sometime. I am glad that we have so many kind, brave, trustful people around. Helen

      Like

  21. Chris Donner says:

    I’m still catching up on blogs. I wished I would have read this sooner. It’s the perfect Christmas story. So moving. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Such a beautiful story, Helen… Just loved it …

    The kindness of the kids and the people at the church is so heartwarming and I can’t even imagine, how wonderful you would have felt …

    And the last paragraph is so touching… thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    Hope you have a great beginning to the new year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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