December 1944, Budapest, Hungary, Part 2
by Nick Ittzes and Christa (Ittzes) Upton
What was this? A woodcarver? She had not seen this shop before! And, oh, could it be?—a set of brightly-painted blocks in the window!
She rushed into the store and approached the owner.
“Excuse me sir,” she began a bit breathlessly, “those blocks—are they for sale?”
The old man looked up and smiled.
“Certainly, Ma’am.” He set down the tool he was using to carve a piece of oak and brushed sawdust from his lap. “Would you like to see them?
“I’ll get a box here….” The woodcarver stood, walked to the back of the shop and came back with a wooden box. “Let me just put all these in…. There!” He held the box, now full of blue, green, red, and yellow blocks, toward Grandmother. Grandmother picked up one of the blocks. Its surface felt as smooth as satin, ready for a child’s hands.
“I’ll take them!” Suddenly the gray day brightened.
Five days later, the children lay in their beds for naps, and the adults had gathered in the parlor. They worked busily arranging presents, lighting candles, and hanging decorations and homemade treats wrapped in foil saved from cigarette packages. Grandfather held the Christmas tree steady while Father lit the highest candles.
“I cannot imagine where those soldiers found those Christmas trees!” marveled Mother. “And how did they happen to come by exactly at the time when you were standing there on the street?!”
Three days prior, Grandmother had been amazed to see two soldiers coming down the street, each carrying a Christmas tree. She had approached the soldiers and asked: “Would you consider selling one of those trees to me? My husband is a Colonel in the army, and our grandsons are with us. We have no tree.” They had insisted she take a tree as a gift.
Grandmother finished hanging a decoration on the tree and said, “Our God can answer prayers any way He wants!” A warm feeling passed through all their hearts as they thought of how God had bestowed on them this little gift, this little reminder that they were known and loved by God despite the difficult years they had been through.
Father stepped back to admire the tree.
“Are we ready?” asked Grandfather. They all nodded and smiled. Mother stepped out to wake the children.
As she opened the bedroom door, suddenly they all heard a faint, “Ding-aling, Ding-aling, Ding!”
“It’s the bell!” shrieked Miklosh. “Come on, Yehno!” He slid out of bed and ran to his brother’s side, and his little four-year-old hand grasped Yehno’s even smaller hand. Mother picked up baby Eva, and they headed to the parlor together. Two-year old Yehno didn’t remember last Christmas, but Miklosh had told him all about it. Nearly bursting with excitement, the boys pattered down the long hallway with Mother and baby Eva following behind.
to be continued….
Christa Upton Black Hills Picture Books PO Box 293 Custer, SD 57730