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  • Writer's pictureCorinne Yeadon

A True Christmas Story

This is a true Christmas story.

What I am about to tell you happened some time ago in the 1970’s but the turn of events and kindness shown represents all that is good about people and the genuine Christmas spirit that continues to be alive today.

Following my dads premature death in a terrible car accident at Coniston Cold. Times were hard for my mum, dad had no life insurance as a 31 year old, leaving her a widow in her early thirties and responsible for me as a young child. She worked three jobs, self employed as a burler and mender and also took on a cleaning job as well as working as a dinner lady in my primary school. Unfortunately, in the middle of December, working in the school kitchen a heavy metal container of food was dropped, landing on my mum’s hands breaking all her fingers. This rendered my mum incapable of working any of her three jobs, basic daily functioning proved a challenge as you can imagine. This was the 1970’s where there was little heed paid to workplace injuries and furthermore if you didn’t work you didn’t get paid. Mum’s boss, we’ll call her Mrs S, contacted the big bosses to plead the case for her to be paid, informing them she was a widow with a young child, at Christmas barely scraping by as it was. Unfortunately, this was refused but Mrs S was clear she would keep fighting. My mum was a proud woman, not given to displays of emotion but I recall her sitting me down and calmly explaining that there would be no Christmas dinner or presents that year but when she returned to work in January we would have our Christmas then. I recall accepting this without fuss as the sight of my mum repeatedly apologising with silent tears streaming down her face was far more heart breaking than the loss of Christmas.

On the day before Christmas Eve Mrs S came to our house with the news that the big bosses had changed their mind and decided to pay mum. I can still recall the three of us crying, laughing and dancing around the living room amid mum shouting, “We can have Christmas Corinne!”

We never forgot the kindness Mrs S showed us in being in our corner, she never spoke about it to anyone and when we reflected on her support that Christmas, she didn’t comment, just quietly smiled.

Many, many, years later, after my mum’s death I bumped into Mrs S and again expressed my gratitude for saving our Christmas. At this time she was in her 90’s, still as strong as ever and as sharp as a tack. She looked at me and said, “They didn’t pay your mum, but I couldn’t bear the thought of you and your mum not having Christmas so I spoke to my husband and he agreed that we would use our savings to pay her.” She went on to say that she knew my mum was proud and would not have accepted a “handout.”

The warmth, gratitude and joy that I felt that day remains with me still, forty odd years later. For me every Christmas is a time of hope and a genuine belief in the goodness of people thanks to the generosity and care of Mrs S. I have been fortunate over the years to be the recipient and witness to extraordinary acts of kindness at Christmas but this will always be at the top of my Christmas tree.

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