T’was the night before Christmas
And though we had prayed
Not a curtain was hanging
Not a swag or a shade.
The client was calling and saying, “Dear Trudy,
My windows are bare
And they’re making me moody!”
So away to the wall phone I flew like a flash,
Called Saul to the rescue
And begged him to dash!
The snow started falling, the wind it would blow,
But Christmas was coming and my client felt low.
“Dear Saul, you must hurry!
The weather is bad.
And those poor barren windows,
Well, they must be clad!”
“Oy, Trudy,” Saul told me.
“Don’t worry. It’s done!
I’m on my way. I don’t need the sun!
No weather will stop me
My sleigh it is packed
With fabric and grommets and braid
That’s a fact!”
He dashed through the night,
Not a sound did I hear
‘Til late in the evening
They called in good cheer.
My client said, “Trudy, your Saul is a blessing!
He’s been here for hours, my windows are dressing!”
So all’s well that ends well,
My friend saved the day.
He never would stop
Until things went my way.
He showed me the meaning
Of Christmas that night
That business with friendship
Makes everything right.
The Story Behind the Poem
One of my first friends in the design business was a drapery maker named Saul. He was much older than I was, but he took me under his wing and taught me about design and draperies. I was blessed to count him as a friend.
Saul hadn’t had an easy life. He was a Holocaust victim, but he’d made it through Auschwitz, and worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family in a new country. He had seen enough of the dark side of life. He kept his face turned toward the light.
He had suffered; he had starved; he had survived. None of that made him bitter, he held onto nothing from his past. He was a good man with a big heart. He treated me like his daughter, saying, “Trudy’s little, but she thinks she’s big!” He always said he would do anything to make me happy, and one Christmas, he showed me he meant it.
I’d been working hard to finish a client’s home for the holidays. Saul was slated to install window treatments for the first floor of her beautiful home in Connecticut. The client, normally calm and understanding, called me late in the day on Christmas Eve. Saul hadn’t arrived, and she was beside herself, distraught over the idea of Christmas without curtains.
Snow had started to fall, the precursor to a full-blown blizzard. I didn’t know what to do. The roads were a mess, it was getting dark. Saul was driving from Co-op City,and I didn’t know if he had gotten stranded somewhere. These were the days before cellphones, when it was impossible to reach anyone. My heart sank. Was Saul all right?
I worried until 11:30 that night. At last, my phone rang again. It was my client. “Don’t worry, Trudy!” she told me. ” Saul just got here. He said he’s going to stay until he finishes. We’re drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire and singing Christmas carols. ”
The best part was that although Saul arrived in time for her to have curtains for Christmas, her husband had done his part to focus on the true meaning of Christmas as well. She told me that after her frantic call to me, her husband said to her, “Honey, we can have Christmas without curtains. Look around you. We have Christmas already! We have a beautiful home, a tree, and our children. What more do we need?”
And then Saul arrived at the door, stamping snow from his boots and saying, “Oy vey, I’m here!”
This dear Jewish man traveled hours through the snow, charmed my client, joined their family festivities, and didn’t leave for home until 2:30 a.m.
Saul taught me many things: about draperies and design, and about business, but mostly about life. He taught me what it was to stand by a friend, and that I could count on him when things fell apart. He was beside me when my mother was ill and in the hospital, and I was beside him when he needed me. He passed suddenly, after an unexpected fall, before I was ready to tell him goodbye. I wasn’t blessed with a large family, but I am grateful for my rich circle of friends. Saul will always be one who is closest to my heart.
There’s nothing more precious at the holidays than spending time with the people who love us. I wish each and every one of you a Christmas filled with joy. Curtains are a bonus.
Speaking of a Christmas filled with joy, I am so happy that my good friends Tracey and Bill have a new friend with a wagging tail to love this holiday season. Welcome, Dixie!