Friday, December 12, 2014

"My Christmas Miracle" from Judy Judy

Sharing this true story of Judy Judy's Christmas Miracle, a real life Hallmark Christmas Story!   "The Christmas Miracle" was written by Don Kesner, a minister, who continues to write part time for the Hampshire Review in W. Va.

"My Christmas Miracle

DON KESNER Review Staff
SLANESVILLE — Six-year old
Judy Ann stood along the
roadside, waiting for the big yellow
bus to come that would take
her to school.
Her hair was uncombed, her
face was dirty and the flip flops
on her feet exposed her toes and
legs to the cold wind.
There was no coat in her closet
to put on. In fact, there wasn’t
even a closet, according to Judy
Her parents lived in a big, old
farmhouse, but stayed in just
three rooms. The rest of the
house was closed off to keep the
heat confined to the small living
“I remember that when I’d get
to school, the teachers would
take me into the rest room and
wash my face and try to fix up
my hair before I would go to
class,” she said. “Those teachers

were very kind to me.”
She remembers kids at school
making fun of her because of
her clothes, and because of her
Judy Ann had a speech impediment
that made her difficult,
at best, to understand when
she talked.
“People would ask me where
I lived and I would tell them, ‘I
live in the ticks(sticks),’” she said.
Judy Ann said she didn’t
know to tell people that she
lived in Slanesville because all
she had ever heard about her
home was that it was “in the
The old farmhouse sat down
a long, dirt road that was seldom
ever traveled because her
parents didn’t have a car.
Her mom was mentally challenged
and her father was an alcoholic,
according to Judy Ann.
She is the fourth among six
siblings. The first three, two
half-sisters and a half-brother,
were given away at birth, she
“People told me that my
mom always talked about wanting
to keep one of her babies. I
guess I was the lucky one who
got to stay home,” said Judy
Home isn’t exactly the word
that would describe Judy Ann’s
living environment, but it was
all she knew at the time, she
“I remember being hungry,
and that there were times when
Mom and I would go for a couple
of days without food,” said
Judy Ann. “I remember we had
company one time and after
they had left, I found a can of
unfinished Vienna Sausages in
the trash can. I couldn’t believe
anyone would throw away
She finished them off, she
Judy Ann says her mom’s
mental limitations made it impossible
for her mother to care
for her daily needs.
“Mom was more like a little
kid,” she said. “She would go
out in the yard and play with
me and she’d go for walks in
the woods with me.”
Judy Ann remembers the next
baby being born — a younger
“She was born in the outhouse,”
said Judy Ann. “I remember
my mom telling me
that her stomach hurt and that
she had to go to the outhouse.
She came back carrying a
Judy Ann said she remembers
seeing her little sister lying in a
bassinet that someone had given
her mother.
“I don’t remember ever seeing
her again until I met her at
my grandmother’s funeral,”
said Judy Ann.
That, she said, was nearly 23
years later.
It was when Judy Ann was 6
that her bus driver, Pat Percival,
told a friend about her.
Slanesville residents Robert
(Rip) and Brenda Riffle had no
children of their own, so in order
to make Christmas really
special, they would take a child
from the Burlington Children’s
Home and keep him or her for
the Christmas holidays, according
to Judy Ann.
After hearing about Judy Ann
from Pat Percival, the Riffles
agreed to take her for the holidays.
“(Pat) told me about this really
nice couple who wanted to
have a little girl at their home
for Christmas, and asked me if I
wanted to spend Christmas with
them,” Judy Ann said.
Christmas wasn’t anything
Judy Ann had ever really experienced.
There was never a tree
or a decoration. There were no
ornaments to remember or gifts
to open.
That was, until one year she
remembers the Voit family
coming to the house with boxes
of presents.
“There were toys and clothes
and I remember being so excited,”
said Judy Ann. “There was
a little ceramic Mickey Mouse
cup in the box. That was my favorite.”
Judy Ann remembers her dad
having a television installed in
the old home shortly before the
Voits had made their memorable
“I had seen a commercial on
TV for Bounty paper towels,
and how they would put a cup
on a wet paper towel and carry
it around,” said Judy. “I remember
trying it with my ceramic
Mickey Mouse cup.”
She said she can also still remember
crying because the paper
towel didn’t hold and her
cup fell onto the floor and
It was Dec. 11, 1974, and
Judy Ann awoke with an excitement
like none before.
“I just knew that someone
was coming to take me to their
house to stay for a while,” she
It was an answer to a prayer
that Judy Ann had prayed many
“I don’t know how I knew to
do it, but I would lay in bed at
night and pray for a new family,”
said Judy Ann. “And even
at 6 years old, I knew that
morning that someone was
coming to get me and that I
wanted the house to look nice. I
remember running around the
three rooms, trying to pick
things up so it would look good
for the people who were coming
to get me.”
It was a long walk down the
old dirt road and Brenda, Pat
and Pat’s daughter, Cindy, came
walking up into the yard.
Judy Ann left her home that
morning and it was the last time
she ever went home.
It took her a while to warm
up to “Rip” because, she said he
had a beard and she was afraid
of men with beards.
“But I can still remember the
feeling walking into their home
and everything was so pretty
and clean,” said Judy Ann.
That night, Brenda gave her a
bath in a hot tub, something
she’d never experienced.
Her old home never had running
water, or any of the conveniences
of a real home.
“(Brenda) taught me that
night how to wash myself, and
how to do my hair,” Judy Ann
said. “And I got to sleep in my
own room with a big bed.”
It was only a twin-sized bed,
but to Judy Ann, it was huge.
Until she was at least 3, she
said she had to sleep in the bed
with her mom and dad.
“When I was 3, someone
gave us a crib, and that became
my bed until I left there that
morning,” Judy Ann said. “I
have memories of climbing up
over the rails to go to bed.”
But Judy Ann said she’ll never
forget Dec. 11, 1974, or that
It was the first Christmas tree
she had ever seen.
“Brenda and Rip asked me
what I wanted for Christmas
and I told them a talking kitty
that I had seen on television,”
she said. “I only asked for one
thing because that’s all I
thought a kid could get.”
That Christmas was the first
time she ever experienced helping
to make cookies, get presents,
see Christmas trees and
The Riffles took her to New
Jersey to Brenda’s parent’s
“Their Christmas tree must
have been 20-feet tall,” she
said. “I just stood there and
stared at it.”
That was the Christmas her
life changed.
“They kept asking me if I
wanted to go home, and I’d tell
them no, I wanted to stay
there,” Judy Ann said.
She took to calling both
Brenda and Rip’s parents
grandma and granddad right
Judy Ann said she remembers
her mom coming to visit her at
the Riffle’s house occasionally.
“Dad would drop her off in
the driveway and leave,” said
Judy Ann. “Mom liked my
room and would talk about how
pretty everything was.”
As time went on, the visits
became fewer and fewer until
she never saw her mom again
until one day she showed up at
the end of their old road, waiting
for the bus.
“Pat stopped the bus and
asked Mom what she wanted,”
said Judy Ann.
Her mother said she had
come to take Judy Ann home,
but Pat said she couldn’t let
Judy Ann off at that stop.
“I rode the same bus when I
moved to Brenda and Rip’s, I
just got off at a different stop,”
she said. “But I had drawn a
pretty picture that day at school.
I know it was pretty because
my teacher told the other kids,
‘look what a pretty picture Judy
Ann has drawn.’”
That day, at that stop, Judy
Ann said she asked Pat if she
could give her mom the picture.
“I walked to the front of the
bus, gave mom the picture and
a hug,” said Judy Ann. “I can
still remember her crying as the
bus pulled away.”
It took three long years before
the Riffles could officially
adopt Judy Ann.
“I really think my dad held it
up because he would tell Brenda
and Rip that he could get
good money for me,” she said.
“I think now that he must have
gotten a welfare check for me,
even though I was living with
the Riffles.”
But with the adoption official,
Judy Ann settled in to her
new home for good.
“Brenda and Rip are my parents,
and always will be,” said
Judy Ann. “But I guess that, because
it took so long to get
adopted, I just got used to calling
them Brenda and Rip.”
But Judy Ann said the Riffles
have made Dec. 11 of every
year extra special because that’s
the date she became theirs.
And Christmas has always
been special to Judy Ann ever
“I never saw my mom again
until her mother passed away
and I went to the funeral,” said
Judy Ann. “I was married to my
husband Billy and was pregnant
by that time.”
Judy Ann said her mother
recognized her right away.
“Judy Ann,” she said, “I
would know you anywhere.”
Judy Ann said the kids at
school quit laughing at her after
she went to live with the Riffles.
And with the help of Gerald
Mathias, a speech therapist with
the Hampshire County Board of
Education at the time, and
Brenda, she overcame her
speech impediment.
Judy Ann uniquely married a
man with the same last name as
her first name and became Judy
The Judy’s home shouts
Christmas from the time it
comes into sight in Pleasant
Dale Acres.
The inside is lighted as
brightly as the outside, with a
Christmas tree in every room,
yes, even the bathrooms.
Each one is uniquely decorated
with a different theme and
Christmas cookies set on the
table for company.
Everyone who visits the Judy
home during the Christmas holidays
goes away with a little
Christmas gift, a token showing
how special Christmas is.
She has reunited with all of
her siblings over the years. And,
she has visited her mother on
She never saw her dad again
and sent a single rose to the funeral
when he died, but she didn’t
According to Judy, his abusiveness
to her and her mom
made him easy to forget.
But some things she’ll never
forget, like every piece of
Christmas decorations she has,
and who gave them to her, as
well as why she received them
and when.
This is the first year she didn’t
get to spend Dec. 11 with
her parents, Brenda and Rip.
They moved to North Carolina
and she and her family plan to
visit them over the New Years.
But, on Dec. 11, a dozen roses
were delivered to her, in
memory of Dec. 11, the day she
came to live at her new home
35 years ago."

Judy with her roses celebrating Dec. 11!
Wasn't that beautiful!  "My Christmas Miracle" makes me wonder how God must have felt sending Jesus to earth on Christmas to give away his only son.  How hard it must have been for Judy's mom, although compromised, watching that bus pull away with her baby.  God so loved her too... and little Judy, He gave a child a new life that December 11, 1976.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son...."  John 3:16
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