A Story by forrestcook

Christmas story


The Christmas Painting

April had always been told that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and yet she was now left to wonder what the value in that saying was. She wished someone would tell her that a picture was worth a thousand dollars, then she might find hope. She finished combing her hair and went down the hall to awaken her two children. Glancing out the window she saw the Christmas lights across the street. Her neighbors seemed so happy and she was certain they would have the kind of Christmas she could only dream about.

Just then she heard the giggling of her daughter, Crystal; what an angel she was with her golden curls and deep blue eyes. Her eyes were the reason for her name; they were like crystal clear pools of ice blue water. Suddenly her son came bounding out of his room with his sister fast on his heels. He was holding his sister’s favorite doll above his head as he ran. It seems he was going to be the tease in the family. David reminded her so very much of his father with his dark lashes and curly dark hair.
She never talked much about their father because the pain was still too deep. He had left her shortly after David was born and she never knew where he had gone.

But at least she had her two children to cling to and right now she needed to get them ready for school. She reached out and grabbed them both up in her arms.

“David, you quit teasing your sister!”
“Aw, mom, I was just having fun.”
“Let’s go downstairs and get breakfast, it’s almost time for the school bus to be here.”

After the children had left for school, she sat down at the kitchen table to begin paying the bills. She knew there wasn’t enough money for bills and for Christmas, but if the bills weren’t paid they wouldn’t have a place to live after Christmas.

If only she could sell some of her paintings. She had stood on the street corners until her toes lost all feeling and still had only sold enough to meet the daily living costs. How could she ever tell her beautiful children that there would be no Christmas? She felt the tears begin and knew if she didn’t get up, she would not be able to stop the crying. And crying was not going to help her.

Today was the last day of school before the Christmas break. She only had five days to somehow pull together enough money for gifts. So she gathered up her paintings and headed out for the street corner near the mall. It was so bitter cold, but she couldn’t afford to rent any space indoors; she barely had enough money to buy her canvases and paints.

The next four days flew by and she still hadn’t made enough money for Christmas. She wasn’t even able to find a tree, so she had decorated a plant that her neighbor had given her. The children didn’t seem to notice the lack of decorations; they were so filled with faith and knew that Santa would bring them not only presents but also a beautiful tree.


Tomorrow was Christmas and she didn’t have the courage to tell her children the truth. She looked out her window and saw the neighbors unloading not ONE but TWO Christmas trees. Why would anyone need two Christmas trees?? She pulled the curtains shut, not wanting to be reminded of what she didn’t have. As the evening grew late, she sat and read the traditional Christmas bible story to David and Crystal. Then they sang songs and drank hot chocolate. At least they would have happy Christmas eve memories. Finally, it was bedtime. April knelt with each child as they said their bedtime prayers.

‘Bless mommy and Baby Jesus. And please help Santa find our house.’


Oh, the faith of children.

Again, she was alone in the dark with only her wishes, her paints and her canvases. She could hear her neighbors as they laughed outside. She peeked out the window and watched as they unloaded one gift after another from their car. She closed the curtain again as the tears streamed down her face.
All she needed was one painting worth a thousand...a thousand pennies would be enough....if only....

April's Christmas Painting

She pulled out her canvas and brushes
from the place they were hidden away.
Determined, she set up her easel,
she would paint a bright Christmas day.

Money was so very tight that year,
but her children still needed her care.
She thought if she’d just paint that picture,
she’d awake to find Christmas cheer.

‘Till the wee hours of morn she labored,
‘till exhausted, collapsed in her bed.
In dreams she could see her painting,
and sugar plums danced in her head.

She awoke to a bright Christmas morn,
afraid still of what she would find.
But then she heard squeals of laughter,
“Could the fates have really been kind?”

There in the room where she’d painted,
stood a tree filled with candy and lights.
It seems that her work came to life
sometime in the dark quiet night.

Presents wrapped up with bright ribbons,
lay neatly beneath the trees boughs.
This mother had tears in her eyes,
her prayers had been answered, somehow.


© Forrest Phelps-Cook

© 2010 forrestcook

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Added on July 9, 2010
Last Updated on July 9, 2010
Tags: Prayer, Christmas




Married to Jackie Leon Cook. I am originally from Arizona, although I grew up as an "Air Force brat". I have five grown children, 14 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. I met my husband on the.. more..