A Highland, Illinois man recently had a story published about his mom’s mysterious Christmas Eve activities and it’s gone viral, as reported by the Sun Herald.
John Dorroh said when he was growing up, his mother, Sue, disappeared every Christmas Eve for about three hours. She’d just grab her car keys and mumble about “running errands,” then go out the back door and return a few hours later.
John was baffled about where his mother was going, but his dad may have known because he was evasive, offering this explanation.
“Maybe she forgot to get someone a gift.”
A confused John persisted that first year. It was just odd to him and he knew something was off.
“Mom never failed to start her shopping in August and was finished with her list by Thanksgiving,” John wrote.
But he let it go, suddenly realizing maybe it really was a trip to get a gift for someone.
“Maybe she had gone out to get that telescope that I wanted,” he thought before dismissing his curiosity.
As it became a yearly routine, John just sort of stopped wondering about it. Then when his mother died in 1990, he received a letter from a man named Robert who he had never met. Robert had an explanation about Sue’s mysterious Christmas Eve activities.
“Dear Johnny, I just wanted you to know how much my family and I appreciate what your mother has done for us for all of these years.
Every year on Christmas Eve day your mom comes to my house dress like Mrs. Claus and gives my kids a Christmas that we can’t afford to give them. She has given them shoes, shirts, jeans, toys, and candy.
I know your heart is heavy and that you are missing Miss Sue. We do, too. We loved her and just wanted you to know what she has done for us. Love, Robert and Nellie and the kids”
John was gobsmacked, but when he thought about it, not really all that surprised. He later found out that “Robert” had a lot of children and not much money.
“She never talked about it with anyone. She didn’t do it for any attention or accolades. She just did it. It was just part of her character. Part of her spirit. She was a great Santa Clause for me year-round.”
John’s story is published in Chicken Soup for the Soup: The Joy of Christmas. Getting a story into Chicken Soup for the Soul books isn’t easy, says Amy Newmark, a publisher and editor-in-chief for the company. The publisher receives thousands of submissions per year, and she picks 101 stories for each book they publish.
“I loved his story,” said Amy Newmark, “Chicken Soup” publisher and editor-in-chief. “I loved the fact that his mother went out to help this other family every Christmas Eve for years and never even told her own family what she was doing.”
Robert’s letter was valuable to John.
“That short note was the best gift that I ever received from anyone, better even than that sill old telescope.”
There’s more than one lesson to be learned from John’s story. The apparent one of giving back to others and not boasting about it. But also the important lesson of letting people know when someone has done something special. It may mean a lot to their family when they’re gone.