Newspaper Archive of
The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 23, 1994     The Message
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December 23, 1994

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Message readers recall Christmas mem A season of providence My favorite Christmas occurred during the Christmas season of 1990. One day, after pray- ing that God would show me His will for my life, I drove from Ferdinand, where I taught at Marian Heights Academy, to Evansville amidst a snow blizzard. My destination was Holy Redeemer Church where I was to accompany a choir for a Christ- mas rehearsal. During the practice, I realized that I had become snowbound with very little money and no place to stay overnight. I was too shy to ask any choir member for lodging,and I didn't want to inconvenience any- one, so instead I prayed to God for help. A few moments later, the trumpet players, a mar- ried couple whom I had never met prior to the rehearsal, invited me to stay in their home. They showed me photos, shared stories of their lives, fed, sheltered and comforted me. This family exhibited a true spirit of giving. On Christmas eve, my car failed to start. No rental cars were available. I again prayed to God for help. Someone suggested that I go to talk with Paul Uebelhor, a good-hearted in Jasper, who also was a devout Catholic. He helped me by loaning me a car to use so I could drive to Evansville to play for Midnight Mass and the Christmas liturgies. Upon arriving in Evansville, I noticed that my right front headlight had burned.out. After stopping at five gas stations to see if I could make an appointment to get it fixed, I began to panic. More snow had been predicted, and I knew I needed to get the headlight replaced be- fore nightfall, or I would not be able to attend Midnight Mass. Remembering that the family with which I had stayed during the blizzard had told me that one son fixed cars, I stopped at his house in desperation. He was kind enough t help, and like his family had done, invited me into his home to stay warm from the bitter cold. On December 25, after playing for the Christmas liturgies, I had again become stranded due to snow accumulations. The trumpeters again invited me to their home for Christmas dinner. They knew that I'd be alone on Christmas and without my family for the first time. Little did I know that this was to be the initial experience of sharing many Christmases with them. Three years later, I married their eldest son, James, the same young man who fixed my car. I became a true member of the Pat and Emery Nagy family. This year will be the fifth Christmas spent with a trulY special family. This Season is filled with truly special memo- ries of God's providence and answered prayers. Ann McKinney Nagy Evansville Memories of sharing We had just moved in a new neighborhood and we didn't know everyone. We were ready to leave home to go to Mass when a little boy came running down the road and asked my Dad to call the doctor for his father. Dad called the doctor, then took the little boy home. As soon as we got home, my Dad went over to see if he could do something for them. The doctor had never been there and when my Dad called again, the doctor's wife an- swered and asked if they had the money to pay. Dad told her if they didn't, he would pay. It was during the Depression and most of our Christmas presents were gifts my Mother and Dad made for us, and candy, oranges and peanuts, which were treats at Christmas. When my Dad saw several little children, a sick man, a mother who didn't drive, and no Christmas, he came home and we gathered gifts, goodies and meat we had just butchered and took everything to that family. That was the best memory of Christmas I can remember. Anna Spencer Carlisle The Grate My dearest Christmas memory dates back to 1940 when I was 10, my sister Alice was 14, little brothers Bunny 4, and Johny 3, and Barbara not yet born. We lived on a little 40-acre farm in Armstrong Township, and were quite poor, though my aunts and uncles kept us in nice clothes. Our two-room log house burned down when I was four years old, and my parents, Emily Marie and Herman C. Elpers, built a small four room house as our home. My father was unable to get much work, because when he was 11, while recovering from diphtheria, he had a stroke. He recovered, hut had a limp and one hand a little stiff. On Christmas Eve afternoon, Mother put up our artificial tree, which I thought was won- derful. It had green limbs you straightened out and red berries. We had that for as long as I could remember, having gotten it after the house burned down. Mother put on ornaments and carefully put on the icicles she had saved on newspaper from the years before. A string in lights was put on, but not turned on till later. When Santa came, my task was to stand on the trap door in the floor of our kitchen, as my little brothers had to go to the basement when Santa was busy putting gifts around the tree. (In years to come, my task became more perilous as my brothers became stronger and raised me up, as I hollered, "Mother!") At any rate, when my brothers were released, they ran in to see what Santa had left them. After things quieted down somewhat we all climbed in out 1931 Ford and Daddy drove us over the Henderson bridge to grandmother's half of a yellow duplex, next to the rectory of Holy Name Church. Grandmother was a wonderful person. She, and also my mother and their whole family, came up from Napoleonville, Louisiana, and settled in Henderson. She was half Spanish and half French, although she spoke French and English. It was snowing and there was a wonderful atmosphere. Grandmother had three sons in their twenties and thirties, not married yet, and they all lived in that wonderful place. The other half was occupied by two retired spinster school teachers and they shared a bathroom with my grandmother. My sister Alice and I, and our two cousins, Betty and Mary Jo, got to sleep in their spare bedroom, and these dear ladies made a fire in the grate for us. Next morning, we went to Mass at Holy Name, and Grandmother used her French prayer book, which we children were proud of. The smell of roast turkey, rice and oyster dressing, pickled cauliflower, fruit salad and more made us children keep coming into the tiny kitchen and asking when dinner would be ready. In the afternoon, our uncles would give us older girls 15 cents each to go to the Kentucky Theater. For that, we saw a stage show and a double feature and had a candy bar. After, we walked back to the house. It was getting dark and Uncle Buster built a fire in the grate with coal. I remember sitting in front of that fire eating an apple and candy and feeling very sorry for children who didn't have all these wonderful things. Doris Head Evansville The memory of Lee It was sometime in the fall of 1984 when someone brought some craft items to work to sell. They were dish- washing detergent bottles made into figurines -- with a doll head and clothes at- tached. There was a Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, which was very pretty, but the set that caught my eye was the farmer and his wife. Actually, it was the farmer with his overalls and straw hat that reminded me of my Great-Uncle Lee. Immedi- ately, the thought crossed my mind of this for Christmas. I decided that I would ask my grandma, who sister, what she thought of the idea. I I thought the farmer looked like Lee, but that I what Lee would think of such a gift. I was pretty sure that I knew him well that the first thing he would do is lau would be worth it. After some more discussion, more thought, I decided to get him the set. Lee was 73 and had been a bachelor and farmer life. I had heard many people say that there wasn't a more kind-hearted, giving and trusting around, and I certainly would have to agree. I kn very special to our family. I thought of him more grandparent that a great-uncle. He was " cial family gatherings, which of course included the ing of gifts from Santa on Christmas eve. On Christmas eve 1984, we gathered home to watch our little sister, Beth, Santa and to exchange our gifts with each other. ever remember so anxiously anticipating the gift as I did this gift I had gotten for Lee. Maybe it was because it was something a little than he had ever gotten before, and I wasn't sure he'd think of it. Finally, the time came for me to give usual, before he opened it, he said that him anything, because he didn't need anything. Then, he opened the gift, pulled out the began to laugh. I remember him stopping say, "I can't believe she got me a doll-baby!" plained to him how much the farmer He took the set home and displayedit in until that following February when he passed grandma gave me the set as a remembrance that sure very much. I now display the set in my living room and to give to our youngest daughter, Abby named after Lee. I'm going to tell her about Lee, 4 a good person he was. I've thought many times how I wish I could be him in his good-hearted, trusting and truly believe that these thoughts have helped rao better person. I hope that by telling her about him, she way be influnced by the memory of Lee. Continued oll