Monday, November 30, 2009

The Christmas Clock

The Christmas Clock
A True Story
By Judy Vandiver

      Little “Dude,” as his family called him, watched his mother as she stood in front of the mercantile admiring the beautiful eight-day striking wooden clock. She stared at it for a few moments, shook her head at the five dollar price tag then turned and walked away. It was in the late 1930’s, Christmas was coming and Dude wanted to buy that clock for his mother.
      One thing, however, stood in his way. Money. It wasn’t that he didn’t have enough money to buy the clock. It was that he didn’t have any money.
      A few days later Clay, a neighboring country boy, asked Dude if he had ever thought of selling his gun. Dude thought of how precious his Benjamin pump rifle was to him. He’d finally been deemed old enough to have a gun. It was an old one that his dad had found for him. He’d put his own mark on it. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was his.
      He used that gun to shoot a squirrel or rabbit and was always rewarded with a smile from his mother when he helped contribute to the dinner pot. But today, Dude could only think of the look in his mother’s eyes as she had wistfully looked in the store window.
      “I’ll take five dollars for it,” he said.
      “Five dollars? You must be crazy. I’ll give ya three bucks for it,” Clay said.
      “Five dollars.” That’s all Dude would say.
      Clay left, but returned a few days later. “I’ll give ya three fifty for that rifle,” he said.
      “Five dollars,” Dude answered.
      After several more days of trying to negotiate at four and four fifty, Clay returned with five dollars.
      Dude sold him the gun, then he went to town and bought the beautiful wooden clock in the store window.
      Christmas morning, when his mother opened her present, she cried. Together they hung the clock on the wall of her country kitchen.
      His older brothers always said they hated the clock.  “’cause Mama knew when we were coming in late.”
      So, when Mama died many years later, they all insisted that Dude have the clock. He carefully removed it from the wall of the old homestead and took it to his house. He hung it in his kitchen and thought of his Mama each time he passed it.
      Dude had demonstrated true love that Christmas. He was more concerned with what might make someone else happy than what he wanted for himself. He had acted upon a verse his mother had shared with him from John 13:35 when Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
      As Dude grew up, his life was one that continually showed people the love he had for them, always putting others before himself. His home became a place where family, friends and sometimes strangers could find a place to rest their head at night. He sometimes worked two or three jobs to help put food on his table and still be able to give a little something to someone else.
      He once heard of a man traveling across the United States, hand pulling a wagon. He was told that the man would stop from time to time in an area to work odd jobs, earn a little money, tell people about Jesus and move on. And, neighbors said, he was camped just outside town.
      That night, as a chilly winter storm blew in, Dude got in his pickup truck, drove around until he found the man and his wagon and brought him to his home. He and his wife, made the man comfortable in a small guest room. They cared for, visited with and fed the man for several days. Once the storm passed through, the old man was on his way, with a few extra dollars from Dude and his wife.
      I know a lot of people say everyone is only after what they can get for themselves these days, but there are lots of “Dudes” in our world.
      I heard of a woman in our town who is encountering difficulties raising three grandsons alone. Several people came together and helped her with school supplies and clothing for the boys.
      In a home near us lives a woman caring for an elderly man and two mentally handicapped men. All four came down with infectious pneumonia. Two neighbors, at the risk of their own health, took food to them.      
      Yes, there are lots of “Dudes” in this world. We may never know how many. We may never know of all their good deeds. We may never know how their love has helped someone else. But, we can try to pass a little of that same spirit on. And not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.
      Maybe you are wondering about Dude and the rifle and the clock. The clock still hangs on his kitchen wall ticking away the minutes, the hours, the days. The gun? Well, an interesting thing happened with that gun. It ended up in an old junk shop in a town several miles from where Dude was raised and hundreds of miles from where he now lived.
      One day, his wife and his sister went for a ride and happened into that old junk shop. His sister recognized the Benjamin pump rifle. It was Dude’s old gun. It still had his mark on it. Dude’s wife bought the old relic, giving a few more than five dollars for it this time. On Christmas morning, Dude, now an old man, slowly unwrapped the gift in the long skinny box that had been hidden behind the tree.
      Imagine his surprise. His wife and God, had given him his old rifle back. It now graces the wall in the same house with the clock.
      “Just think,” he said, “I got my rifle, the clock and that old boy’s five dollars. Ain’t God good.” 

The Christmas Clock - copyright 2008 by Judy Vandiver

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