To support his family, 7-year-old Peter worked in Mr. John’s jewelry store while the other children helped at home with Christmas Eve preparations.
The First Christmas — Reflections of Charity and Kindness
Mr. John was a wealthy jeweler who had no family. He only cared about his money and saw Peter as an ordinary employee, not a child.
Peter wanted to leave work early on Christmas Day so he could help his mother and buy some items for dinner. As he watched some children playing outside the window, Peter heard a shout that made him shudder:
—Peter!—, shouted Mr. John.
—Yes, sir,— was his reply.
—Why are you looking out the window, I ask? Your work is not yet finished.
Peter replied, “—Today is Christmas! It is a very special day because today is the birthday of the baby Jesus”.
—I don’t care. I anticipate that today you will be able to avoid your responsibilities earlier and perform better,— he replied.
—But Mr. John, today I need to buy some things for Christmas dinner,— the young man begged.
—For the Christmas meal,— the jeweler scoffed. —You simply want to leave early. The day is routine; if you want to keep your job, you must keep working.
—Indeed, Mr. John,— Peter replied sadly.
With tears in his eyes, the boy continued with his homework
He feared that Mr. John would prevent him from spending Christmas with his family because of his deep sadness and anguish.
Amid this horrible thought, he prayed to the Virgin, begging her intercession so that he could enjoy a joyful Christmas with his family. Peter’s heart almost leaped out of his chest when Mr. John suddenly screamed very loudly. The terrified jeweler cried out:
“Peter, Peter, come here at once!”.
—Mr. John, what is it?— he asked.
Fearful, Mr. John hugged Peter and said, “—I’ve seen a ghost!”
Peter thoroughly combed Mr. John’s room but found nothing. —Don’t worry,— he said. —I can’t see anything.
—Are you trying to make a liar out of me?— asked the old man. —I’m sorry, Mr. John; I didn’t mean to.
—It was a nightmare, but keep working, I tell you!
What Mr. John said he had seen continued to terrify him
It occurred to him to ask Peter to stay with him well into the night because he didn’t want to be alone for a moment. Just in case, he reasoned. Calling out to the young man, Mr. John said, —Peter, please stay late tonight.
—But, Mr., my family is waiting for me today because it is Christmas.
—Peter, I’ll double your pay!
—But Mr. John, I have to go because I’m almost done with my work.
Mr. John was reluctant to confide in me.
Although the boy was aware of his fear, he was hesitant to stay because it was Christmas. Then he had the brilliant idea of “inviting Mr. John to his house to spend Christmas”.
—I invite you to spend Christmas with us so you won’t be alone,— said Peter.
Mr. John was delighted with Peter’s invitation because no one had ever invited him to his house before. Without thinking much about it, he accepted.
As soon as they arrived at Peter’s house there was a lot of joy and generosity in that modest house, which impressed Mr. John very much. Mr. John smiled as he had never smiled before when he realized that he had never celebrated Christmas before and now he was celebrating with a simple and generous family.
The emotion and happiness he experienced caused his cheeks to blush and many tears to fall down his cheeks.
After the evening, Mr. John promised to treat the child with greater justice and consideration and to donate his goods to the needy.