Last Thursday was THE most memorable day of Joseph’s life. In fact, he was pretty sure if he still believed in it, he would consider this a godly intervention. How else could he, a father of four and barely able to afford the food in their plates, win the lottery? That too, a sum of no less that 15 million pounds!
Joseph had grown up watching the neighbours’ kids ride their own bikes to school, wearing expensive shirts and getting showered in gifts on their birthdays. He had lost his father at the tender age of twelve and it was all his mother could do pay for his education and the rent. He had never known luxury. He had dreamed that one day, he would land a good job with his degree and earn enough to provide his family with all the things he himself had never received.
As luck would have it, after a few year of starting his dream job in a start-up, the market downsized. His salary reduced to half of what he got. By then, he already had three children and a fourth was on its way. He could have left the job, but he was their most able financial adviser. So when the CEO himself approached him with a plea to stay, he couldn’t refuse. His loyalty and inherent goodness wouldn’t let him.
The result was reverting back to his earlier rationing lifestyle. Dinners now consisted of soup or salad, only one gift was bought for the whole family once a year and Joseph’s wish became that idealistic fantasy once more. Then came last Thursday, bringing with it the most welcome news he would ever hear!
“And just in time for Christmas too!” thought Joseph, walking out of the gift shop, his hands full of bags. “The kids will be so happy. Maybe Christmas really is a time for miracles.”
He was only a block away from his house when something made him stop in his tracks. He had never had much cause to travel this way, or had this much time on his hands, which is probably why he hadn’t noticed this before. On the corner of the street was an old and worn Tudor house, paints peeling and overgrown with hedges. Two little faces peeking out from between the rails of the rusted gate caught his eye. The children couldn’t be more than ten. Their clothes, though clean, were shabby and not merely enough for the mid-December cold. What halted Joseph, however, was the look on their faces. It was a look he recognized! He used to look at the neighbours’ shopping bags the same way almost two decades back, full of longing and resignation.
His feet carried him of their own accord. Before long, he found himself in the drafty corridor of Willough’s Shelter for Abandoned Children, talking to the kindly old maiden Mrs. Halley.
“Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider your decision sir?” said Mrs. Halley. “After all, it’s such a lot of money and we wouldn’t want to impose.”
“I’m quite sure Mrs. Halley. I have more money now than I can ever require. Let it do some good. Give me a call when you get the papers ready and I will commit to an yearly donation. Meanwhile get this place some Christmas cheer”, Joseph said, setting down all his bags. “I will bring some more tomorrow.”
“Oh but Mister! You can’t possibly give away all you gifts!” exclaimed the overwhelmed woman. “You must have children of your own waiting for those. We couldn’t possibly…”
“It’s okay Mrs. Halley,” Joseph cut her off. “I think a day spent with your lovely children will be the best gift my kids can get this year.” He looked towards the cracked open door, where he could see three or four little eavesdroppers’ eyes light up with joy.
“Besides,” said Joseph, the image of a longing little boy in his mind and a sense of completeness in his heart. “They’re worth it.”