What happens when the light of Christmas emerges from a family’s darkest night?

This Christmas, we turn to writer Connie Nice of Husum, Wash., for a faith-affirming memory: As a young wife, of her husband David’s brush with death on Christmas Eve 41 years ago. Nice writes powerfully about a tragic, yet uplifting, family story, published in the 2018 “Chicken Soup for the Soul; The Wonders of Christmas”.

The story, reprinted in part here, reminds us all that family love and the power of healing comes from a very deep well indeed.

We thank the Nice family for allowing us to use their story to create our 2018 Christmas message to readers.

Nice opens the story with a quote from the great writer Willa Cather: “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”

She writes of how David had gone to his father’s woodshop to make picture frames as gifts, and when he was late coming home, she called the woodshop and heard an unfamiliar male voice say words that made her heart stop: “You must go to the hospital at once! There has been an accident.”

Her husband had been shot by her brother. Nice writes:

“As family and friends arrived at the hospital, the story emerged gradually. A younger brother with emotional, drug-fueled anger. An older brother trying to set an example of how to walk the straight road — or else. A loaded rifle. A hard metal bullet. A moment and a choice that ended with my husband on the shop floor, blood spilling out his side. A tearful final exchange between brothers that resulted in words of forgiveness. An ambulance with medics rushing to stabilize the lifeless man. Police taking notes and shaking their heads as they led the brother away … a dying man, lying on the cold, hard concrete, surrounded by blood and encircled in white light. A peaceful voice whispering, ‘It’s not your time.’”

After an agonizing six-hour wait, the family hears from the surgeon about the destructive injuries to spinal cord, ribs and kidney. David had experienced severe blood loss and paralysis in his lower extremities.

“But he was alive. Thank you, God! We would handle the rest later. He was alive! That’s what mattered.

“It was now Christmas Eve. Just as the wisemen brought three gifts to honor the birth of the Christ child, so God blessed us with three Christmas miracles that year. First was the miracle of forgiveness between David and his brother. Immediate. Powerful. Unexplainable and unconditional. The second was the miracle of life that baffled even the surgeon as David not only survived, but walked out of the hospital 10 days later despite the severity of his injuries. The last was the miracle of giving, as our little church family blessed us with the monetary gift on Christmas morning to help ease the burden of hospital expenses.

“It has now been 40 years, but every year at Christmas, as we decorate the tree and wrap the presents together, I reflect back to that moment when the best gift was not wrapped in paper and bows. It was wrapped in the miracle of forgiveness, the joy of life, and the power of love.”

— From “Chicken Soup for the Soul; The Wonders of Christmas” Chicken Soup for the Soul, 332 pp.

Interested in Hood River News Christmas editorials from the past?

A limited number of copies are available of “12 Columns of Christmas,” published five years ago. Pick up a copy at Hood River News for $5; all receipts go to the Hood River Warming Shelter.

The columns draw from literature as diverse as Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and the kids’ picture book “The Potato Man.”

Headlines include “Remembering the season’s verities,” “A gift in song,” and “An adventure and a blessing.”

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