As a kid, Christmas is the best time of year. When else, besides your birthday, do you get free presents?
The mystery and magical nature of Santa makes it such a fun holiday. However, the thought of families not being able to celebrate Christmas because they cannot afford to is absolutely heartbreaking.
It is especially sad when parents have to tell their children Santa will not be coming to their house and bringing them gifts, even though he will be going to their friends’ homes. When a cashier at a grocery store in Indiana learned one of her customers was unable to afford Christmas gifts for her children, she decided to take measures into her own hands—even if it meant giving up her holiday paycheck.
On Christmas Eve, Abby Meehan, 16, was working a double shift as a cashier at Baesler’s Market when Cory Swetland, 39, pulled into her lane. She was shopping for a few last minute food items with her 10-year-old son Jacob when they met Abby.
“I was paying and [Jacob] was kind of being a boy—dancing and that sort of thing,” Cory said. “She leaned down and said, ‘What is Santa going to bring you for Christmas?’ He started to tear up and I said, ‘We had to have a conversation yesterday that Santa is not coming this year and she said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ I said, ‘No, no. It’s OK. It just upsets me to see him upset.’”
While Abby finished ringing the items up and bagging them she was thinking about what she could do to make it a better Christmas for Cory and her children. Cory recalls, “She put our couple of things in a bag and grabbed my arm and said, ‘I can’t let that happen. What’s your number?’”
At first, Cory thought Abby wanted to enter her name into the holiday raffle at the store so she gave Abby her phone number and went home. But Abby had other plans.
“I grabbed my dad and I was on a mission,” Abby recalled. “I said, ‘We’ve got to get this kid some gifts. It’s not fair for someone to not have something to open on Christmas.’ We took [presents] to his house and you couldn’t imagine the look on his face. He was jumping up and down and smiling and we exchanged at least 10 hugs that night.”
Abby bought Jacob a few games he had asked for, cookies, and candy. In total, Abby spent $75, a week’s worth of earnings.
“They were just the sweetest family, so grateful for what I brought,” said Abby. “I knew as soon as I walked in, I was supposed to bring those presents to them.”
On Dec. 26, Cory and her four sons met with Abby and her parents at Baesler’s Market. Abby’s mother, Mandy Meehan, bought gifts for Jacob’s brothers and an additional $200 in food for their family.
“I knew I had to do more,” Mandy said. “I took them around the store and we stocked her up on groceries. I think [Abby] put herself aside and I think that’s remarkable. I’m very proud of her, for sure.”
Cory felt incredibly blessed to have Abby looking out for her children and is happy they were able to celebrate Christmas with gifts. “I felt like the worst mother not being able to do anything for my kids for Christmas, but to have a 16-year-old come in and help, it’s unimaginable,” she said.
Thankfully, Abby understands that the true meaning of Christmas is not about the gifts but about the giving. “Waking up on Christmas morning, we always go straight for the presents but that’s really not what it’s about at all,” said Mandy. “It’s about giving and for me, giving that was the best Christmas present ever.”
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