Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Stories

My wonderful dentist, Dr. Kobylnyk at Burlington Family Dentistry, is a storyteller ... which has become a lost art.  He shared two stories with me this month.  His version of the first one, embellished as he went, was better than the copy I snagged off the Internet.  But the second one is exactly as he related it to me.

We at Skagit Leeks wish you Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa.  My assistant Gwynehefar (or Guinevere), decked out in her Holiday finery and pictured below, hopes you enjoy both stories.
"How the Little Angel Got on Top of the Christmas Tree"
(the author is unknown, but the story is known worldwide)

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

By now Santa was in a bad mood.  He began to load the sleigh, but one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered ...

Seriously frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum.  When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor.  In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor.  He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, our highly irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big gorgeous Christmas tree.

The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa.  Isn't this a lovely day?  I have a beautiful tree for you.  Where would you like me to stick it"?

The second story, a touching tale entitled "The Tablecloth" follows if you want to "Read More."

The story, whether true or not, was originally titled "The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth" and written by the Rev. Howard C. Schade, pastor of the First Reformed Church in Nyack, New York.  It was originally published in the December 1954 issue of Reader's Digest, and was later anthologized in Alice Gray's Christmas Stories for the Heart in 1998.

"The Tablecloth"

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities.

When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work.  They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.  They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.  On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm - hit the area and lasted for two days.  On the 21st., the pastor went over to the church.  His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.  The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way, he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in.  One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center.  It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall.  He bought it and headed back to the church.  By this time it had started to snow. 

An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus.  She missed it.  The pastor invited her to wait inside the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.  She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.

The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.  Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle.  Her face was like a sheet.

"Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth"?  The pastor explained.  The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG, were crocheted into it there.  They were.  These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before in Austria.  The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth.

The woman explained that before the war, she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria.  When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.  Her husband was going to follow her the next week.  She was captured, sent to prison, and never saw her husband or her home again.  The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.

The pastor insisted on driving her home; it was the least he could do.  She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve.  The church was almost full.  The music and the spirit were great.  At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.  The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall, because it was identical to the one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war.  And how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in prison.  He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride.  They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.  He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door ... and he saw the tears of the most touching Christmas gift he could ever imagine.


  1. Wow, The Tablecloth is an amazingly moving story, tnanks for sharing

    Have a very happy Christmas!

  2. Great stories. The first made me laugh out loud. The second warmed my heart. Thanks.

    And what a cool dentist you must have.

  3. First one made me laugh, second one made me cry. Great stories, both of them.