Tuesday, November 9, 2010

James, Our Early Christmas Gift

We absolutely love the Christmas season. No matter how tough things seem to be, the season of hope stirs our faith. In fact, when I feel a sudden surge of faith, hope, and joy I tend to start humming Christmas songs, even if it happens to be July.  So, this year on election-day we elected to start the Christmas season early, after voting of course. While my husband was at work and the kids were home from school, we pulled all of the decorations down from the attic.  Just seeing our decorations reminds me of a wonderful angel of a guy we met one year while decorating. Here is his story.

James, Our Early Christmas Gift

With Christmas coming I decided (actually my husband decided for me) that today was the day I needed to weed through some toys. No big deal, or so I thought. As I began to sort out the ones that he had technically outgrown without ever using, it began to tug at my heart. I love my little guy and he is absolutely perfect in my eyes but it breaks my heart to think he is missing out on his childhood. I thought I was fine until Wesley asked me what I was doing. Then came the tears; I felt foolish and quickly snapped to.

Several hours later we met this wonderful, precious, angel of a guy. His name is James. He knocked on our door at about 7:40pm. I opened the door expecting to see my brother who is six feet tall. Instead, I found James - a little tiny man, maybe 17 years old, 4’ 5”, big blue eyes, slightly crooked posture, and the most sincere face I’d ever seen. He stood there in the cold wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and ball cap.

He hoped that he wasn’t bothering me; typically sales people absolutely bother me but for some reason he didn’t at all. He was working towards earning points for a contest for people with disabilities where they would be given the opportunity to obtain a $5,000.00 prize to start their own business. In a low voice he whispered, “Ask me how.” I did and he loudly proclaimed, “I’m glad you asked!” I know it sounds very much like a typical sales pitch but it just didn’t feel like it at all. I laughed and invited him in, which I never do.

Instantly he had the undivided attention of the whole Howell family. He had his little list of magazines. Unfortunately, you had to buy at least 36 issues and that was more than we could afford. But that was ok with James because he was just enjoying getting to know us. He pretended to be proud that he could instantly spot a biker, my husband, and then grinned and said the black and orange Harley Davidson jacket also helped, quickly adding that he was adoptable. He stayed about 15 minutes since it was cold outside and the company would be sending someone for him at 8:00.

He asked if there was anything fun to do in the area and we made a few suggestions. He asked about bowling alleys and my husband explained there was one about two miles from our house. I was even more impressed - you see his bones appeared to be slightly twisted and he walked with a limp. I wondered if I would have even tried to bowl.

Still feeling badly that I couldn’t buy a magazine, I asked if we could pay for a couple of games of bowling. He said, “Ow, thank you but I can’t. You see that’s called panhandling and you can go to jail for that. I’m way too cute to go to jail.” That he was!

He asked my husband if he had an extra toboggan and, as God would have it, he and our daughter had found one in the attic just that afternoon when pulling down the Christmas decorations. James put the toboggan on and said that if he ever won a million dollars that we would be the first ones he thought of. He said, “I’d probably just give it all away. Who needs it anyway as long as you have love? God bless you!” and out the door he went.

After he left we were all speechless and just smiled at each other, knowing we had been blessed by meeting this very special person….and I don’t mean special needs person - just Special. As I sit here and type, I wonder how often his mother must have prayed for her baby boy’s body to stand tall, straight, and strong. Often enough I suppose since his character is definitely standing tall, straight, and strong. But then I can just hear James saying, “Who needs straight bones as long as you have love? God bless you!”

Maybe God sent this angel to show me that if Ryan could he might tell me, “Who needs to play with these toys as long as you have love?” God made Hebrews 13:2 very personal in my life that night.


I wish James knew what an impact he had on me. His faith and hope were contagious and I hope ours is as well. Maybe so since one week after starting our early Christmas season my brother sent me a text saying, “Look what you started.” Love ya Little Brother!!


  1. That story never gets old! I should have sent you a pic after it was done.

    Love ya!
    Uncle B

  2. I agree. I just love that sweet story. God is so awesome like that! Ok so now I have to go drag all my stuff out too... send you a picture soon!!! Love you guys and miss you tons! Will you update pics of the kids on here, I would love to see how much they have grown.