The Christmas the Truck Broke Down

“The Christmas the Truck Broke Down,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 39

The Christmas the Truck Broke Down

We have had Christmas with tinsel and toys,

With family and gifts piled high;

With stockings hung clear across the room

With turkey and pumpkin pie.

But the Christmas that I will remember long

Was the one far away from home.

In December of 1983, my husband, Hoover, and I were serving a mission in northern South Dakota. We had been away from home only six weeks, and we were determined not to be lonely or melancholy.

We planned to eat Christmas dinner at Cannon Ball, North Dakota, with six other missionary couples in our district. We had baked pies and wrapped small gifts to exchange. Our children had been told to “call early or late,” because we would be gone all Christmas day.

As we left our temporary home in Mobridge, our hearts were high, and Christmas songs were on our lips. But as soon as we crossed the bridge leading out of town, our pickup truck suddenly stopped. Nothing my husband did would start the engine. He even tried an extra battery we had with us, but nothing worked.

It was cold, really cold. Mr. Dietric, a local rancher, stopped and worked on the truck with my husband for some time, then said, “I need to go over the hill and break the ice so my cattle can drink. I’ll be back in about half an hour. If you haven’t got the truck started by then, I’ll push you home.”

I was sure that we wouldn’t be there when the kind rancher returned. But we were. Not only were our toes colder, but our spirits were drooping as well.

After Mr. Dietric pushed our truck safely home, we thanked him warmly and presented him with a Book of Mormon.

A can of soup followed by a piece of pumpkin pie made up our Christmas dinner. Afterward, we didn’t allow ourselves to feel disappointed, but instead gave thanks to the Lord for our time together. Never have I felt such a comforting feeling as we sat together, just enjoying one another’s company. Too often we had been busy and pressured for time. Now, alone in our comfortable little home, we felt peace—the real peace of Christmas.

  • Alice N. Washburn, a homemaker, teaches Relief Society in the Monroe Fourth Ward, Monroe Utah Stake.