A Christmas Story: The Sacrifice

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By Richard Mabey Jr.

It was in early December of 1967, when I was 14 years old and in my freshman year at Boonton High School, that I was to learn just how much Grandpa Mabey loved Grandma Mabey. For the love did shine, from Grandpa’s heart, not by words, but by true sacrifice.

It was in the dawn of the Summer of 1964, when I was 10 years old and had just completed the fifth grade, that Grandma and Grandpa moved in with us at the old Mabey Homestead. This was the very home that Grandpa’s father, William Mabey, had built in 1895.           

Right behind the old Mabey Homestead, once stood a big garage. It was there that Grandpa stored his old Indian motorcycle. My grandfather, Watson Mabey, had always told me that he had bought the motorcycle, with his brother Earl, during the fall of 1916. This was just before the United States became involved in the First World War.

Grandpa always kept the old Indian motorcycle stored in the northwest corner of our old garage. This was the side of the garage that was closest to Mabey Lane. Grandpa kept a piece of heavy canvas over his old motorcycle. It was on an early Saturday morning, in early December, that I helped Grandpa remove the heavy canvas from Grandpa’s pride and joy motorcycle.

I remember that there was a window that looked out to Earl’s Meadow, the back acre that was to be the site of Grandpa’s brother’s home, for when he returned from World War I. Sadly, Earl was killed in battle, in France. After we removed the old canvas tarp, Grandpa stared out to Earl’s Meadow.

Grandma and Grandpa, in their youthful days, on the old Indian motorcycle.

“My brother and I used to pick apples from that old apple tree, when were boys about your age. We’d put them all in a big wooden basket and my mom would bake a couple of apple pies,” Grandpa shared with me, with a bit of a tear in his eye.

“Fred Belmont’s going to stop by this morning. I’m going to sell him this old motorcycle,” Grandpa said to me, in a most solemn and reflective voice.

I didn’t know quite what to say. I knew how much the old Indian motorcycle meant to Grandpa. It was all so representative of the bond that he had with his late brother, Earl.

“I saw a gold necklace in the jewelry store in town. I’ve thought long and hard about it. I’m going to buy that gold necklace for your grandmother. I’ll have the money when I sell my old motorcycle to Old Man Belmont,” Grandpa quietly told me.

It was about an hour later that Fred Belmont showed up to buy Grandpa’s cherished Indian motorcycle. I helped my dad load up Grandpa’s motorcycle onto Fred’s pickup truck. As Fred drove off our driveway and up Mabey Lane, Grandpa did his best to hold back the tears. But, despite his best efforts, tears ran down Grandpa’s old cheeks.

After lunch, Dad, Grandpa and I drove down to the jewelry store on Main Street in Lincoln Park. It was located just to the right-hand side of Moe’s Sweet Shop. Grandpa smiled from ear to ear, as he paid for the beautiful golden necklace.

Life is short. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the people we love. The Christmas of 1967 was to be Grandpa’s last Christmas, on this side of Heaven’s Gate. I think that deep inside his heart, Grandpa knew it was going to be his last Christmas.

My grandmother, Bertha Storms Mabey, cherished the beautiful golden necklace till the day the good Lord called her Home, on the fifth of January of 1989.

I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about my paternal grandparents. I remember Grandpa’s crooked smile and the twinkle in his eye. I can still see Grandma peeling apples to bake an apple pie.

In memory, I return to the old Mabey Homestead. I can still hear the echo of Grandpa’s infectious laugh. I can still hear the resonance of Grandma’s sweet voice, telling stories of her Irish heritage. Love the people in your life. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Cherish every moment. 

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at