There was once a man who lived with his young daughter named Elma. The man was sickly and thin and could seldom work for a living. They were so poor that during winter, they had to go around their neighbors to beg for extra hot soup to keep their bodies warm.
On Christmas days, they would usually spend the night just sleeping away in their tattered blankets and with a flickering lamp while other people celebrated and feasted with their families. The man always felt sad on Christmas morning, as he would see his daughter longingly watching other children by the window who were dressed in lovely clothes.
“I wish I could give my daughter the same things that other parents give their children, not only on Christmas but every day of the year,” the man thought to himself. With this wish in mind, he would go around to look for work but since he was not very healthy, he could only handle little work and receive little pay.
Now, the daughter loved her father just as much. She took pity on him every time he came home tired and coughing. She would pray every night for his father to get better. Sometimes she would go their neighbor and offer help in the household chores so she could buy bread.
One time, two days before Christmas, the daughter thought of giving something special to her father as Christmas present. She thought a thick woolen jacket would be a nice gift.
“He needs warm clothing so he would not get sick anymore,” the daughter thought. She went to their neighbor’s house and offered help in the kitchen. Luckily, Mrs. Brown needed extra hands to knead the dough for her Gingerbread cookies.
That night when Elma arrived home, she was surprised not to find her father. She went to bed wondering where he went. The next morning, she found her father’s bed still empty. Thinking he might have left early again, she went to back to help Mrs. Brown again.
It was already Christmas Eve and Elma hurried to finish her tasks. After getting her pay from Mrs. Brown, she rushed to the nearby store where the brown leather jacket that she wanted to get for her father was on display. It was already chilly and she only had an old sweater and boots to keep her warm but she did not mind at all. She asked the storekeeper to wrap the present and ran home.
When she got home, Elma searched for her father at once. She was surprised to see some nicely wrapped gifts at the table. She opened them one by one and found two beautiful dresses, a dainty pair of shoes and some lovely toys. She wondered where all the presents came from.
“Father, are you home?” Elma said aloud. But there was no answer. As she was starting to feel frightened already, she heard a distinct sound from the door.
“Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Elsa ran to the door and saw her father standing outside. “Father!” Elma exclaimed. “Where have you been?”
Elsa and her father embraced happily. Suddenly Elma noticed they had visitors. A man and woman with a girl as old as her were smiling at her. “Who are they, Father?” Elma asked.
“They are our new friends, my child. Yesterday, when I was clearing the lakeside and their daughter was playing by the bank, she fell and nearly drowned but fortunately I was able to save her.”
From her father’s story, Elma learned he was not able to come home earlier because the parents of the child insisted in bringing him to the doctor for treatment as he was coughing so bad after saving the child.
Elma brought out her gift for her father. “Merry Christmas, Father,” she said. “Merry Christmas, Elma,” the father answered.
Elsa and her father spent Christmas day in their new friends’ big house. The couple owned a business and hired Elma’s father for a permanent job. Elsa and her father felt so blessed.
It was the happiest Christmas they ever had. Elma knew her father would completely get well from being sickly and she knew too that she would not have to do odd jobs anymore to earn money. And best of all, she could go to school just like the other children in their neighborhood.