经典英语美文：A change of heart It was the tail end of the depression, and things were tough. Mum had a hard time raising us kids on her own in our small community of New Westminster, BC. My Dad had drowned in Pitt Lake, five years earlier - I still remember it like it was yesterday. Because Dad had no pension, or benefits, there was not much money so we went on relief, now called social assistance. We relied on the Salvation Army to keep us clothed, and although our clothes were second hand, we thought they were beautiful.
Looking back, I realize what Mum went through sending us kids to school. Every morning she would tuck a new piece of cardboard in our shoes, because our soles were worn out. When we got home, Mum would have "French Toast" ready for us. This was bread deep-fried in lard. Constant moving was typical for my family in these times. Rent was twenty-five dollars a month, but Mum couldn't pay it, and we knew we would be evicted right after Christmas on the first of January. These were hard and sad years, but we never complained.
Christmas was approaching, and we were entitled to a twenty-five dollar Christmas fund for social services. The Inspector came to our house, and searched it from top to bottom to be sure we didn't have any food hidden away. When he didn't find any, he issued the cheque for Mum. It was four days before Christmas, and Mum said that instead of buying food, she would use the money to pay back rent, assuring us all of a roof over our heads for a little while longer. She told us then there would be nothing for Christmas.
Unknown to Mum, I had been selling Christmas trees, shoveling snow, and doing odd jobs to earn enough money to buy a new pair of boots. Boots that weren't patched, boots with no cardboard in the soles. I knew exactly which boots I wanted. They were ten-inch Top Genuine Pierre Paris and they had a price of twenty-three dollars.
Well, the big day came on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. I was very excited, as I hurried up the road to catch the bus. It was only half a mile walk, but on the way I noticed a house with Christmas lights and decorations. It was then I realized that at our house, we had no lights, no decorations, nor any money for Christmas goodies.
I knew then that we would have no turkey or ham for Christmas, and I felt sad. But I knew for certain that we would have French toast.
As I continued walking I began to feel bewildered. I was eleven years old, and I was feeling a strange sense of guilt. Here I was going to buy a new pair of boots while Mum was home in tears. She would be trying to explain to us why there were no presents. As I arrived at the bus stop, the driver opened his big manual hinged door. I stood there for what seemed an eternity, until eventually the driver asked, "Son, are you getting on this bus or not?" I finally blurted out, "No thanks Sir, I've changed my mind."
The bus drove off without me, and I stood alone in a daze, but feeling as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My mind was made up and I realized what I had to do.
Across the street from the bus stop was a big grocery store called the Piggly Wiggley. Into the store I went, brimming with happiness and excitement. I realized that the twenty-five dollars I had worked so hard for went a long way for groceries. I bought a turkey, ham, oranges and all the Christmas treats. I spent every dime of my hard-earned money. The owner of the grocery store said, "Son, you can't pack all those groceries and carry them home yourself." So I asked two boys with carriers on their bicycles to run them the half-mile down to our house. As I walked behind the delivery boys, I whispered for them to quietly unload the groceries on the porch and pile them against the door. Once they had done this, with great excitement and tears in my eyes, I knocked on the door. I could hardly wait to see my mother's face! When Mum opened the door, some of the groceries fell inside onto the floor, and she just stood there dumbfounded. Holding back the tears, I hollered, "Merry Christmas Mother!! There really is a Santa Claus!"
I had a lot of explaining to do as we unpacked all the food and put it away. That day I got enough hugs and kisses from Mum to last two lifetimes. To see my Mother's prayers answered more than made up for the boots I never got. It was a Merry Christmas for us after all!