Because She Cared
Recalled and Written by Ines Hunter Schultz
“She had only been twenty-one when her father died, leaving her mother with six children at home. She had been reared in a home where there had always been sufficient for their needs and sometimes more. Her parents had taught the children good values of work, prayer, sharing, and keeping close to Heavenly Father. But that was three years ago, and a lot had happened since then. A severe depression had swept across the land, wiping out their livelihood. She and her younger brother had become the family providers. The family had moved to a new town three months before Christmas, and of course, had few friends. Shortly before Christmas, their mother was called away from home to go to the bedside of her dying father. All the funds the brother and sister had were required for the train fare and sustenance for their mother. There was no money for Christmas presents, and it was a lonely time for the family in a strange city with no father or mother there. The brother was on call for his job, and worked every possible hour he could get. At this time he was working at night. So the responsibility for the four younger sisters fell upon the shoulders of the older sister. How hard she prayed that in some way she could provide Christmas presents for her family, especially the two little sisters. It was a bleak day – the day before Christmas. But it was like a miracle, she said later. As she was leaving work about six o’clock that Christmas Eve, her boss handed her an envelope. It contained a small cash bonus. As she walked into the darkness, tears filled her eyes in gratitude. She hurried from store to store, getting one present each for her mother, brother, and her two teenage sisters. There was not enough money left to buy new dolls for the little sisters. With her mind racing and planning, she bought organdy, lace, and ribbon. She would make new dresses for her little sisters’ old dolls. As she trudged through the snowy night to her home, she reflected on the many gifts they had received on other Christmases. But her heart was light because there would be a Christmas for her family.
After the little sisters were in bed, she wrapped the precious gifts she bought. Then she started cutting and sewing the doll dresses. She turned the furnace down and sat by the coal stove in the kitchen, with the oven door down for warmth. She worked most of the night on the sewing. One of her teenage sisters stayed with her. Then the older sister, in her thoughtful way, told her to go to bed. “You look so tired, please go to bed.” After that she cleaned up the old dolls and dressed them in the beautiful new dresses and bonnets.
When the dolls were dressed, she carefully placed them in the living room, with one gift each for everyone else – except there was no gift for her. She said later that her gift was the answer to her prayer that brought the small, but precious, bonus. And then to see the eyes of her little sisters light up when they saw their beautiful dolls was the best gift she could receive.
After the gifts were opened a Western Union boy came to the door. He brought the news of the death of their mother’s father early that Christmas morning. It was a Christmas never to be forgotten! But the unselfish love of their sister sustained this lonely young family that Christmas Day. They were a proud family and no friend, no relative, no bishop ever knew of their plight. Only a kind Heavenly Father knew and answered the prayer of faith of a loving, caring, sharing young woman.
I know that this happened because she was my sister. Her giving was not restricted to one Christmas, but she and her younger brother continued to provide for their family for many years. I pay special tribute to both of them this Christmas and I know that their influence will be with me forever.