by William LaMar Palmer from Brandon, MB
Nov 29, 14
In 1955 I was a mountie in charge of an RCMP detachment in the interlake area of Manitoba. We received very heavy snow in November and December of that year, and travel in some rural areas was difficult. But on December the 24th, true to a commitment we had made, we went around the area delivering clothing we had gathered, wooden toys we had made and festive food, and turkeys.
Most of the homes were easily reached by our car, but there was one, that wasn’t. It was a family living on a little-used bush road about four miles from town; a single mother and four children, ranging in ages from 1 to 8 years.
They had no telephone.
I had one of the junior constables with me. We drove to the closest store to inquire about the exact location of the home.
The storekeeper drew a map for us and said we would be able to drive about three miles north, but that the family lived on a side road that had not been plowed, and we would have to walk from there. He was concerned because he hadn’t heard anything from them for two weeks. He gave us some candy and nuts to add to our gifts.
It was nearly seven o’clock It was dark and it was cold. But there was a bit of a moon.
We managed the three miles without difficulty, but at the side road our hearts sank. The road was filled with snow; there wasn’t even a trail.
We started out. The snow was over our knees in most places, and it was hard going. We could scarcely see, and we were afraid we would miss the house. We considered turning back.
I guess the thoughts of my own children kept me going. Finally we saw a light through the trees and a short time later we a small cabin. We had found them.
Exhausted, we struggled through a gate in the wire fence and stumbled our way up to the house. Inside we could hear children’s voices. We knocked. There was complete silence for a few moments, and then the door slowly opened.
It must have been a shock for them to see two burly policemen dressed in buffalo coats. They looked apprehensive, but when they saw our sleigh and box of presents, their expressions changed to amazement and joy. One little voice cried, “See, mama, Santa Claus did come!”
The mother burst into tears. And then she threw her arms around us and kissed us soundly. “You are an answer to our prayers,” she said.
Through her tears she told us she had tried to explain to the children that Santa would not be able to find them this year with all the snow, and there wouldn’t be any presents or Christmas dinner. But the children wouldn’t believe it. The oldest boy said, “We can always pray.” And he insisted they all kneel down. The mother agreed but she dreaded the disappointment they would suffer when their prayers were not answered.
“We had hardly said ‘Amen’ when you knocked on the door,” she told us.
With joy in our hearts we laid out the big turkey and other food and gifts, and then we were smothered with hugs and kisses from four little kids. Everyone shed tears of joy.
The trip from the car to the house had been a struggle every step of the way, but on the return journey we were so overwhelmed by the Christmas spirit we floated back to our vehicle.
Christmas the next day with my wife and three little boys was made even more joyful by the memory of four little faces in that humble cottage way out there in the bush. By that, and by their faith in the spirit of Christmas.