Editor’s Note: Mary Miller, who many of you knew as a neighbor and a friend, was also known by many in our neighborhoods because of her numerous years of writing letters to the Juniata News, extolling the goodness of the people of her neighborhood, Juniata Park. We have chosen to re-publish her letter from Christmas of 2007 as an annual tradition — her own childhood story — which serves as a reminder to all of us, of what the true meaning of Christmas is … the birth of the Christ Child. Mary left this Earth on Feb. 28, 2011 at the age of 86. Her memory and her love of Jesus and her neighborhood, live on in the hearts of many. Following is her letter:
Each Christmas brings back so many memories as a child in the 30’s. A lot of people were out of work and having a hard time making ends meet. And that was the case with my family growing up in a coal mining town of Mahanoy City, PA. We did not have donations of food, gifts or toys because most of us were all in the same boat, so to speak. We had no gifts, no Christmas goodies, no radio, and no electricity, no tree.
One Christmas Eve, we all decided to put up our long white stockings, hoping Santa would notice and bring us some treats. We went to bed and I was so excited. I waited up to hear if Santa was on our roof, but I finally fell asleep. Morning came, and it was Christmas, and the area was covered in snow. When we came down, we went right for our stockings and we found coal filled in our stockings.
We looked at my mother and I could see she was holding back the tears. We asked her “Mom, were we bad?”
She sat us down and said, “No, you are not bad, but Santa decided that we needed to keep warm, so he sent us coal.” She had each one of us empty our stockings in the coal stove, and she looked at us and said “Now do you feel nice and warm?” She explained to us that Christmas is not about getting toys, but to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
So, boys and girls, if you do not get that special gift you asked for, be grateful for what you do get. I learned a very hard lesson and I learned it well. Mom, thank you. I miss you so much.
Wishing all my friends in Juniata Park a Blessed Christmas. God Bless you all.
Love you from