Christmas was a special time of the year for John Dorroh, though he remembers his mother had an unusual habit when he was a boy.
When he was a child, every year without fail, she would sneak out for a few hours, saying something about errands before running out the back door. He remembered this as a boy, but she never told him what he was up to.
He would ask his dad, “What’s she up to?” And his father would simply reply that she’s probably gone out shopping.
John told his father that, no, she always got her gifts beforehand; she started gift shopping in August and was done before Thanksgiving. His father would just say that maybe she forgot a few gifts, and they left it at that.
When his mother returned, he would ask if she got her errands done.
“Yes,” was her only reply.
His mother, Sue, passed away in 1990, and took her secret to the grave.
Then John received a letter from a man named Robert, which revealed the whole thing.
John recounted the letter in a story he submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul, and it was published in one Christmas edition.
“I don’t know if you know what your mom did for us,” this man named Robert wrote. He introduced himself as having worked in a factory with his mother in Columbus, Mississippi.
John was thinking, “No, I just knew that she left.”
And Robert said, “She was playing Mrs. Santa Claus for my kids.”
Robert had several children, but his family was poor, and there was no budget for gifts. But Sue would come around every year with clothes, shoes, toys, and candy.
“I just wanted you to know how much my family and I appreciate what your mother has done for us all these years,” Robert wrote.
Thanks to Sue’s compassion and generosity, Robert’s family was able to have Christmas as well.