Saturday, November 11, 2023

Remembering a Woolworth's Christmas Carol


In the heart of a bustling city stood Woolworth’s department store, a beacon of the holiday season with its festive window displays and glowing Christmas lights. It was here, amidst the aisles lined with toys and tinsel, that a small act of kindness turned into a memorable Christmas for a child named Ellie.

The year was 1957, and Ellie, a wide-eyed eight-year-old, pressed her nose against the chilly glass of the Woolworth's window. The mechanical Santa inside moved with a cheerful jolliness that seemed to beckon her. Inside, the store was a wonderland of Christmas, with the smell of roasted chestnuts permeating the air and carols playing over the loudspeakers.

Ellie's family had little to spare that year. Her father had been ill, and her mother spent most of her time by his bedside. Christmas presents were a luxury they couldn't afford. But Woolworths was doing more than selling toys; they hosted a Christmas drawing contest for children, with the prize being a $50 shopping spree in the store.

Ellie loved to draw. With pencil shavings scattered on their kitchen table, she poured her dreams onto paper: a scene of her family, healthy and smiling, around a Christmas tree with ornaments. She submitted her drawing to the contest, a hopeful flutter in her heart.

On December 24th, Ellie’s mother received a call. Woolworths had selected Ellie’s drawing as the winner. The news was a spark of joy in an otherwise trying winter. Woolworth's staff escorted Ellie through the store, where she could pick anything. Her eyes alighted on a bright red bicycle – a far-off dream turned suddenly attainable. But instead of the bike, Ellie filled her basket with a warm blanket, art supplies, and a miniature model train set for her father, who had always spoken of his childhood love for trains.

Word of her selflessness spread throughout the store, and the staff, moved by Ellie’s choices, decided to add the bicycle as a gift. That Christmas, Ellie not only received the surprise of her life but was also able to give her family gifts that warmed their hearts.

This simple story, nestled in the history of a department store that was once a cornerstone of American retail, encapsulates the spirit of giving, the joy of childhood, and the ability of a community to come together to make a holiday memorable. While Woolworth’s doors may have closed, the legacy of warmth and generosity during the holiday season lives on in the stories of those like Ellie, whose Christmas was made brighter by the kindness of strangers within a Woolworth’s store.



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