Christmas Carolers were singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ next to the 15 foot brilliantly lit statue of Santa Claus that stood in front of the bank on the Eldorado town square. Just down the street the Orpheum Theatre’s marquee was aglow with the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ Shoppers were scurrying in and out of the Ben Franklin Dime Store and P.N. Hirsch Department Store. Tommy was walking with his mother along the colorfully festooned streets and thinking about what fun he had experienced when Chet had asked him to join the other members of the class in decorating the Christmas Tree. Marilyn’s singing had been wonderful and his pal, Chet, along with his friends, Parker and Porter, had made him feel as if he was a appreciated member of the class…something that he had not felt before. Tommy had been born with an unusual curvature of his spine and had to wear a back brace. Due to the many corrective surgeries that he had undergone he had been held back in school for 2 years. Tommy had learned to read when he was 4 years old and he devoured books…many above his age group. During Christmastide he read a Christmas Carol and Mark Twain’s ‘A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’ Court.’
C.P. Burnet came out of the front door of the bank that was named after him and he saw Tommy and his mother listening to the carolers. ‘Tommy…my good man…would you do me a huge favor and read the Christmas Story at my church’s Pageant, tonight? Now Tommy had not been accustomed to being asked to be in the spotlight for any event that he could ever remember…and he said yes with a wide grin on his face!
Mr. Burnett walked up to the microphone at First Presbyterian Church in Eldorado. ‘I have a special treat for you this evening to conclude our Christmas Pageant. My good friend Tommy has graciously agreed to read the Christmas Story for us,’ Mr.Burnett said. Tommy slowly walked up the steps leading to the place where the pastor customarily stands for his Sunday Sermons. Tommy walked with the aid of two canes and took a significant amount of time ascending the 6 steps. Then…he began to read… ‘He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from who men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth…’ Silence hung in the holiday air of the First Presbyterian Church…then Tommy said…now for the Christmas Story…’
‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flock at night. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger.’
Tommy walked slowly down the steps and into the congregation as they all surrounded him…with tears in their eyes…and wonder and awe at the power of his delivery. After sometime Mr. Burnett came up to Tommy’s mother and asked where he was… ‘Tommy is gone…for now,’ his mother said. ‘But…Mary…where has he gone…he will need assistance to walk very far…’ Mary responded, ‘He has gone to be with his father…he knows how to care for him…’