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December 22 2009


by A. J. Angerstein
Dec. 21, 2009

Martha sat at the top of the viaduct. She stayed away from the others as much as she could. Each time she went to the bathroom, she gathered up her tattered blanket and took it with her. She had not reached the point of going out to the corner and holding up a sign as the others had. After all, she had her pride and a few fruit bars left. Each night, she walked the streets of the near by neighborhood looking at all the pretty lights and listening to the laughter or the signing of the people inside the homes. It was so beautiful she thought to herself. Each day she took out her best dress and went into a nearby gas station and cleaned up, even washing her hair. She had brought the essentials with her only. Or at least the things she considered essential. Her toothbrush, two nice dresses, her powder, lipstick, one pair of panty hose, and a couple of necessary underwear items. She wore her jeans and old shoes with socks when she wasn’t filling out applications and even tho she had to lie and list her old address, she at least had her cell phone. She also carried her mother’s ring in her purse and her special rock, along with a few pictures of people who she had cared about. All that was gone now, and she was old, too old to beg, and too proud to admit to any of her family that the bank had taken her home. They all lived out of state or town anyway, and when the fall had happened, she moved to the opposite end of town so there wouldn’t be too much of a chance she might run into her old friends from work. She was still in the ‘ I can’t believe this’ stage of her life. The only other possessions she carried was a book of stamps and a box of Christmas cards and some paper and envelopes. If she didn’t stay in touch with her kids they might get suspicious. Each and every morning she went to the Salvation Army and helped serve breakfast to the many homeless people. They didn’t realize or know that she was also homeless, they just thought she was a volunteer. None the less, she got something to eat that way. After everyone else had eaten she would get a bite or two. It kept her going, and it also made her feel useful. She prayed fervently every night for a miracle, and read her Bible, just before going to sleep. She knew it was her only protection. So far, it had worked and she guessed that was a miracle. She had seen how dangerous it was to be out on the streets. She had also seen the way others would stare at you as they went by in their cars. She had also heard stories from the other homeless, and had found out some of them were there because they had to be, like her, and some of them were there because they wanted to be and this was their way of beating the system. Those were the ones she stayed away from. Those were the ones she was scared of. Her one vice was that she smoked, and she was learning to make each and every cigarette last longer and longer. She would take a couple of puffs and put it out, then she would wait as long as she could before she lit it again. So far, she had only gone thru 3 packs in the whole month she had been out there. Some people might say that was why she was out there. But, she had lost her job because she hadn’t been savvy or smart enough to keep up with the new software programs that had been put into effect. She also lost it because someone younger was smarter. She was still mad about that, but was trying hard not to be. After all, she couldn’t blame the company for her incapabilities, even tho she wanted to. So far to date she had put in over 50 applications, but none of them had called her. All she had asked Santa for was a new job. Nothing more. She knew that believing in Santa at her age was ridiculous, but then in a way, to her it wasn’t. After all, she believed in God, and she couldn’t see him. Or at least she couldn’t see him in the form most people thought of him as. She personally saw Him everyday. She saw Him in the creek bed that ran besides her old house. She saw him in the leaves as they fell from the trees, and she saw him in each and every person that passed, either on a bus, in a car, or walking. After all, they were His children. She was waiting on the answer from God, as to why she was in this situation. She had realized a long time ago, that every thing that happens to a person happens for a reason and if they were patient enough, soon that reason would show itself. On Christmas morning she woke up to snow falling. ‘WOW’, she thought to herself. A white Christmas. She had wanted one, but didn’t want to ask for it. She tried not to ask for too much, for she knew GOD was busy and had other things to attend to.
As she started toward the Salvation Army she hoped they wouldn’t mind her being in her jeans still. After all, there was no where for her to change or clean up this morning. A couple of days before she had found an old abandoned grocery store cart and put her things in it. She had also found items along the way that she could trade for other items.
Parking her cart behind the dumpster for safety she went in to the building only to be greeted by a new person. It was her old boss. He looked at her and smiled. “I heard from a little bird that you come here every morning to serve breakfast. Your secret is out.” Martha lowered her head. She had been unsuccessful once again. They had known all along that she was homeless. Or at least someone had. She wiped a tear and smiled. “I have to get back to the kitchen.” And began to walk away. She turned and looked at the man, “Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas.” The man handed her an envelope. “Merry Christmas Martha, and thank you.” Then he walked out.
She tucked the envelope in her pocket and went into the kitchen and took her place on the serving line. After the last person had left she sat down to eat a bite of breakfast. Then she got up and helped clean up. As she left, she took out the envelope. Inside was a letter and a motel receipt. There was a room in her name, paid up for a full month. The letter simply read,

“Dear Martha,
Thank you for helping me remember what Christmas and life in general is really all about. Please accept this gift and go there immediately. Please report back to work on the 2nd of January, to your old position. I realize now that sometimes, the new way is not always the better way. Thank you, and please forgive me. My deepest apologies.

Merry Christmas”
Everyone is Human

The old lady stood in the shade / waiting for someone who had something to trade.
Her belongings in a wire basket lay / human acquaintance she kept at bay.

Her hair was held back by bobby pins / her coffee cup was made of tin.
The patched up coat was really hot, but she dare not lose it, it softened her cot.
Her pillow was old but covered in silk / it helped her dream to the hilt.
She remembered a time made of gold / wondering how she ever got this old.

Her tattered clothing was worn and frayed / yet she held her head high
As if to say;
I am here on this earth because someone wanted it that way.
I shall live my life the best I know how Even if it means I sleep on the ground.
This life I lead may not be for you, but please remember I’m human too.”

The old lady pushed her bask away Searching for someone who had something to trade.
© amy jean a.k.a. A. J. Angerstein
July 2003
Martha rolled her basket away, and saw another lady about her age, holding up a sign that simply read Merry Christmas. She approached the lady and took her bags out of the basket. Then she reached in her coat and took out her last fruit bar and a copy of the New Testament. She handed them to the lady, and smiled. “Never give up on yourself. God hasn’t and you shouldn’t either.” Then she turned and walked away. The reason had been revealed to her thru the actions of others. For it’s not how others treat you that really counts in this world, it’s how you treat others.
Follow Martha’s example, give someone something that has nothing but hope. A pair of socks, a fruit bar. You can buy them at a dollar store and get six fruit bars in a package for just a dollar. That is six people you have helped to have a merrier Christmas, and you will have a merrier one also. May all your secret Christmas wishes come true and may all your prayers be answered, just as Martha’s was. Merry Christmas to all, and have a wonderful New Year.
Amy © A. J. Angerstein, Dec. 2009
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