Victoria’s children were too busy to call her most of the time, except for Christmas. But this year, her son discovered she was a cleaner at a store and stopped communicating with her altogether. Victoria thought she would have to spend the holidays alone until she heard a surprising knock on her door.
Victoria was holding a broom tightly in her hands, but she had stopped cleaning abruptly because of the man who walked into the furniture store where she worked. It was her son, Matthew. He was staring at her with intense wide eyes and a shocked expression. Victoria smiled and started walking towards him, but he turned around and ran out of the store.
She was surprised by his reaction. Matthew had always been a mama’s boy. But things always change as children get older, Victoria thought. She resolved to talk to him later and continued her job.
When her husband died ten years ago, her children, Matthew and Marina, suggested selling their big house and getting her a tiny apartment, which would be easier to maintain. They wanted to use the rest of the money to start their respective businesses.
Eventually, their endeavors took off, and they got so busy they could barely contact their mother every once in a while. But the holidays were coming up, and sadly, Victoria figured out that her retirement money was not enough for her to live, much less buy presents for her children and grandchildren.
So, at 65 years old, she started working as a cleaner at a furniture store at the mall. The work was not that hard, and she was still young enough to do it. She now had enough money to pay her bills and had already bought all kinds of presents for everyone. However, she had not told her kids about it, afraid of how they might react.
Now, it seemed like that was the best option. Matthew seemed embarrassed after seeing her. But she would call him later to explain everything.
“I’m sorry, mother. I’m busy right now. Can I call you later?” Matthew said that night when Victoria called to explain. She worried and bit her bottom lip with her teeth.
Both her children were avoiding her calls. | Source: Pexels
“But, honey. About today—”
“Bye, mother,” her son said more forcefully, and the line went dead.
She couldn’t figure out what was going on. Matthew’s reaction seemed like an exaggeration. Being a cleaner was nothing to be ashamed of, it’s honest work. Therefore, Victoria decided to call her daughter and see if she knew why her son was acting so weird.
“Mom, I’m busy. I’ll call you later,” Marina said as soon as she picked up Victoria’s call. The older woman couldn’t even get a word in.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll see them at Christmas and explain everything,” she said to herself and continued with her night.
Unfortunately, none of them had called her to settle things for the holiday. They always celebrated at one of their houses, but Victoria had no idea which of her kids was hosting the celebration this year. They hadn’t called back as they promised either, and she was starting to worry.
Two days before Christmas, she sat down with her neighbor, Lorena Atkinson, and unloaded all her worries.
“I’m sure they’ll call soon enough, Vickie,” her friend said after hearing the entire story. They were in Victoria’s living room, eating cookies and sipping coffee.
Her neigbor, Lorena, comforted her. | Source: Pexels
“I don’t know. They’ve never acted this way. They are not answering my calls anymore. I don’t understand why. I’m not doing anything wrong. What if they don’t invite me for Christmas? What will I do?” Victoria asked, holding her cup a little tighter as the anxious thoughts took hold.
“Don’t worry. If they don’t invite you, you’ll come to my house. But I honestly don’t get it either. There’s nothing wrong with your job,” Lorena added, popping a cookie in her mouth.
Lorena, who was around the same age as Victoria, lived at the penthouse of Victoria’s apartment building.Her whole family gathered in her home because it had so much room, so Christmas at her house would be fun.
But Victoria wanted to spend the holidays with her family. This situation was so hard. Why are they acting this way? Why are they icing me out? she worried, despite Lorena’s kind words.
The two women finished their coffee, and Lorena left, promising that everything would be alright and giving her friend a warm hug.
Sadly, Christmas morning came, and there was still no call from Marina or Matthew. Victoria cried that entire morning heavily. She looked at the presents under her tree and grew sad as she went to cook her breakfast.
Her granddaughter, Elizabeth, was the first to walk in. | Source: Pexels
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. It’s probably Lorena. I guess I’ll have to accept her invitation to Christmas dinner, Victoria thought gloomily, walking towards her door.
“SURPRISE!” her kids and grandkids yelled at the door.
Victoria clutched her chest, startled, but smiled immediately. “What? What are you doing here?”
“WE’RE HERE TO SEE YOU, GRANDMA! THIS YEAR WE’RE SPENDING ALL CHRISTMAS DAY HERE!” Marina’s daughter, Elizabeth, yelled in excitement, walking in with a huge gift box. She was ten years old and the oldest of her grandchildren.
The other four ranged between nine to five years old, and they all rushed into the apartment, going directly for the presents under her tree.
“Everyone, calm down. Let’s get settled first, and Grandma will give you your gifts,” Marina called to all the children and then focused on her mother. “Mom, hey. Sorry we didn’t call earlier. But this was sort of unplanned.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Come in. Come in!” Victoria replied, using her hands to urge the adults inside. Marina’s husband entered behind her, and then Matthew’s wife came in, giving her a big hug.
Victoria worriedly looked at her son, and he finally hugged her. | Source: Pexels
Matthew came in last and made eye contact with his mother. Victoria looked up at her son, and tears almost welled in her eyes. Then he pulled her in for another big hug and held on for a long time.
“I’m so sorry, Mom. I… I don’t know what came over me when I saw you at that store,” he said, not letting go of his mother.
Victoria was all too happy to keep holding her son. “Were you ashamed of me?”
“At first, I thought it was that. I couldn’t believe my mother was a cleaning lady. But then, after I received that call from your neighbor, I realized that I was more embarrassed with myself,” Matthew answered.
“What? My neighbor?” Victoria asked, pulling a bit away to look into her son’s eyes.
“Yes, Mrs. Atkinson. She said she lives in this building. We met when you moved, and I gave her my contact information in case of emergencies,” Matthew replied. “Anyway, she called and chewed me out for not inviting you to Christmas and for not answering your calls. Then she said I should be ashamed of myself for having a successful business and making you work hard just to live. That’s when it clicked.”
Marina joined their huddle to apologize to her mother too. | Source: Pexels
“I was ashamed that I never paid you back for the money from your house. I mean, you gave it to us so easily and never asked for anything. And while we now have money, an expensive car, and remodeled our house, you were struggling to pay your bills. I felt like a failure, and I couldn’t deal with it. I thought I was angry at you, but it was quite the opposite,” Matthew explained, finally letting go.
Just then, Victoria felt a hand on her back. It was Marina. “I thought I was angry at you too. For not telling us you needed money. For not telling us you were cleaning a store. But I was mad at myself. You shouldn’t have to work when the money you gave us is more than enough to keep you comfortable for the rest of your life. I can’t believe we never thought about paying you back before.”
“You don’t have to. It’s ok,” Victoria began, but Marina interrupted her gently.
“We have to pay you back, especially after that chewing out from Mrs. Atkinson. She called me too. She said you worked so hard so our kids could have presents from their grandmother, and so we wouldn’t have to worry about you,” Marina continued.
They enjoyed Christmas, and Victoria’s kids never disregarded her again. | Source: Pexels
Victoria smiled and made a mental note to thank Lorena for doing that. “Let’s forget about it for now ok?” she appeased her children and turned to look at her grandkids. “It’s time for everyone to open presents!”
They spent the best Christmas as a family. It was one Victoria would never forget. Marina and Matthew eventually paid their mother back and they started depositing more money in her account just in case.
But Victoria didn’t quit her job. She liked it. Chatting with her coworkers was fun. She officially retired at 70 years old with a pretty decent amount of money in the bank.
And her children never forgot to invite her and always answered her calls.
What can we learn from this story?
- Honest work is nothing to be ashamed of. No one should be embarrassed by their job. Working hard to earn a living is all that matters.
- Don’t forget the sacrifices your parents made for you. Marina and Matthew forgot about the money their mother gave them to start their companies. But they remembered after being scolded and made amends.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a nursing home attendant who got mocked for befriending an older woman.
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