Grandfather’s Christmas Story
They didn’t get much, but they got what they needed.
One Christmas we gathered at my parents’ home in Montemorelos, Mexico, for our traditional Christmas dinner. Before we sat down to eat, we sang Christmas carols and asked my grandpa to have a short devotional. As his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered around him, he told us this wonderful story.
No Work, No Money
In 1954 he and my grandma lived in Monterrey, a growing industrial city in the state of Nuevo León. My grandfather rode his bicycle to work and back every day (a 43-mile round-trip). One week before Christmas he became bedridden with terrible back pain. As he lay in bed unable to do anything, he became anxious as he watched their meager savings being used up. His work as a construction worker was the family’s sole support, my dad being only a baby.
Grandpa told us that he received weekly payments for the hours he worked during the week. If, for any reason, he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid.
As Christmas approached he saw how every egg, tortilla, piece of fruit, and bottle of milk began to disappear. He watched my grandmother pray quietly every day for God to take care of their material needs. He asked God every day to restore him to health, but the pain remained unbearable.
Sabbath came, and he got up from bed to go to church. He told us they walked very slowly that day, but they made it to church.
On Christmas Eve there was nothing in the pantry, and nothing in their savings to buy even the simplest food. They needed 80 pesos to cover the next week’s expenses.
At the Plaza
Grandpa asked my grandma to gather all the balloons she could find around the house. Asking God to help him bear his pain with courage, he put on his coat and tucked a bag of balloons and string into his coat pocket.
As Christmas approached every egg, tortilla, piece of fruit, and bottle of milk disappeared.
Before he left, he gathered his family around him and knelt in prayer. Without even 10 centavos for bus fare, he walked to the city plaza.
As he arrived at the plaza he found a busy street corner and started blowing up balloons and tying them to a pole he had brought from home. Then he started shouting: “Balloons, balloons! A balloon for a peso!”
Parents and children doing their Christmas shopping stopped to buy balloons. As the hours passed, he was able to sell every one of them. With a big smile he quietly counted his money: exactly 80 pesos! He thanked God for his personal Christmas Eve miracle.
Night had fallen, and he knew his wife and child were at home waiting for their grand Mexican Christmas celebration, Christmas Eve dinner. He hurried to the grocery store and bought some simple supplies. He had enough money to ride the bus home.
As he entered the house with bags full of food, my grandma smiled as quiet tears fell down her face. She quickly turned on the fire outside their hut and started cooking with a song of praise.
A Legacy of Faith
As Grandpa ended his story, he added, his voice breaking: “Today we celebrate the most abundant blessing of all: that heaven poured out its most precious gift to us, Jesus Christ. In Him we have hope, in Him we have a future, in Him we have peace and joy. Only through Him are all our needs provided.”
I sat at the table that evening with a heart full of thanks, and with quiet assurance that God is real. Tables were filled with all kinds of delicious Mexican dishes. Family from around the world had gathered. I looked at all the joy and thought about the abundant blessings God had given us as a family since that night in 1954.
My grandmother is no longer with us, but the story of her faith lingers. That day I realized that we had grown not only materially and intellectually; we had grown in faith from generation to generation. And all because my grandfather and grandmother, humble people, had faith in a God who provides. Through their faith, hard work, and sacrifice they were able to give us a future.
Not only that, they also gave us hope and faith in a personal God, a God who cares for our simplest needs and who is always faithful to His children.
Fanny Gradzikiewicz and her husband live in Montemorelos, Mexico, where he teaches in Montemorelos University’s School of Theology.