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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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SEVEN DEAD PUPPIES

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Monday, October 16
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In Print: On News Stands Now

THE BIG STOCKING

by Tumbleweed Smith

Mary Urias of Fort Stockton has a beautiful family and a husband who loves her very much. He bought Mary her first bicycle after they were married. He gave her the first teddy bear she had ever owned.

Christmas is a big celebration around their house. Decorations are everywhere and Mary prepares a huge meal for everyone to enjoy in the midst of opening presents. Things now are quite different from the way they were when she was growing up in El Paso. She was one of nine children. Her mother was young and loved to party. Sometimes she would be gone over a three-day weekend and leave Mary to take care of the younger ones.

“I loved my mother,” says Mary, “and I tried to be a good daughter. I did everything I could to make my mother love me. When she would leave, she would lock us in the house and tell us never to turn on the stove. She made us a big batch of oatmeal and put some canned milk in it. That’s all we had to eat while she was gone: old gray, cold, hard oatmeal.” Her mother often gave Mary whippings with a belt.

Santa Claus never came to Mary’s house. The only present she got was from a grandmother who gave her a small sack that contained candy and nuts. Mary recalls one childhood Christmas: “I woke up very early. I jumped out of bed and started looking around. There was no Christmas tree. There was no Christmas dinner. There was no Christmas baking, no music, no nothing. It was just dark and gloomy in that little room.

But I knew Santa Claus had come. I started looking everywhere to see what he had left me. My Mom told me I was not getting anything and told me to stop looking. But I kept looking. I looked everywhere, under pots and pans, in cabinets. The room was tiny but I searched everywhere. I looked out the window and knew that Santa Claus had come, because all the kids in the neighborhood had new clothes, shoes, they had skates and bikes. Little girls had little fur coats on. They had their buggies with their dolls. There were new puppies. There were toys. There was joy. And I didn’t have anything. I went back to searching for my present from Santa Claus. I finally got on my mom’s nerves. She pulled out that belt and gave me the whipping of my life.”

One October when Mary was 39 years old, she was in a restaurant with her daughter and husband and she told them this story. It was the first time they had heard it. A couple of months later, on Christmas day, Mary put her Christmas dinner in the oven, got her children dressed and went to church. When she got home, she rushed into her bedroom to change into comfortable clothes so she could put the finishing touches on her Christmas dinner. And there on the wall was a huge stocking nearly as tall as Mary. It was filled with presents and had a letter attached to it. The letter read: “Mary, for years I have been looking for you. I hope you can forgive me for being lost. I know we will have lots of good Christmases together. I’m glad I finally found you. I love you and I’m all yours. Your long lost Christmas stocking.”

Mary hangs that big stocking every year, right along with the stockings for her children and grandchildren.

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