It’s Christmastime and Wes Myers prays to Jesus, asking for help in reconciling with his wife, Betty, so he can keep her from teaching their children pagan beliefs.
His prayers are answered. Betty takes him back and the couple has a few good days. Then Wes loses his job. He reaches for a bottle of vodka first and the Bible second. On Christmas Eve, Jesus speaks to Wes again.
The message is chilling.
If you’ve ever wondered why a woman stays with an abusive husband, or why a father would kill the child he loves most, then you must read the story of Betty and Wes and what happened on The Night before Christmas.
Excerpt from The Night before Christmas
The first Christmas after they were married, Betty suggested getting a tree. “A real one,” she’d said, happy anticipation flooding her. “It doesn’t have to be big, but I love the smell of fresh pine, don’t you?”
She shifted so she could glance up at him, expecting a “yes,” but his expression was one of horror.
“A tree?” Wes’s face reddened. He shot up from the couch where they had been sitting together. “A tree!” His voice thundered his disapproval.
His accusing tone made her shrink into the corner of the sofa. Sick with the realization that she had once again violated a rule of his church, she huddled against the cushions while he paced in front of her, raging about trees and Santa Claus being traps of Satan whose purpose was to bring about the downfall of the righteous.
She shivered at the memory. She should’ve known. There had been warning signs, but she’d made excuses for them, believing in love, believing that once she and Wes were married, everything would be all right.
How was she to know better? She’d been only sixteen and desperate for her parents to be wrong about her future when she met Wes. He had rented the spare upstairs bedroom in her folks’ house. Kitchen privileges went with the room. On Saturday mornings when she and Wes were alone in the house, he would sit at the kitchen table and drink cup after cup of coffee and watch her dust or sweep or wash dishes.
Because of the way he sat there so long while she worked, she thought he might be attracted to her, but their conversation never got past the weather. She wanted to get to know him better, but she was shy. She’d never had a boyfriend, and her folks kept saying no one wanted to go out with her because she was fat. “Better lose some of that lard,” her father told her at least once a week, “or those A’s in home economics won’t do you any good.” Her mother always nodded in agreement and followed with, “You’d better take typing so you can support yourself.”
They were right. Boys weren’t attracted to her. Wes might not be either. It might be all in her head. If she said something, and he wasn’t interested, she’d die of embarrassment.
Then one Saturday morning the phone rang. Betty answered it, and a woman asked for Wes. The phone was right there in the kitchen where Betty was finishing up the dishes, so she couldn’t help but overhear Wes’s end of the conversation while she dried plates and silverware and wiped off the stove.
“Of course, I’m all right, Gram.”
“Yeah, she lives here. Her whole family lives here. They own the house.”
He squirmed in his chair and turned his back so Betty couldn’t see his face.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” He shifted in the chair and ran his finger through his hair.
Betty could see his face again, could see the way his mouth tightened into a thin line.
“No, I’m not coming home. I’m fine.”
Betty concentrated on polishing the chrome trim on the stove, embarrassed to be eavesdropping on the conversation, uncomfortable with the anger on his face, but unable to make herself leave the room.
“It’s not that way! I am not!”
Shaking, he slammed down the receiver, fumbling to get it in place.
“Is something wrong?” Betty asked. Then she immediately felt stupid. Of course, something was wrong.
“Gram wants me to come home.” Scowling, he slid down on the chair and folded his arms in front of him. “I’m not going to.”
Betty sat down across from him, the dishtowel in her hands giving her something to fiddle with as she offered timidly, “She misses you?”
“Misses me?” His sarcastic laughter filled the kitchen. “She misses me all right. Misses keeping tabs on me. Misses trying to catch me in some sin. Misses the chance to prove she’s right about me being damned to Hell for the way my mother carried on and led my father to Satan.”
Betty twisted the towel. Talking about Satan like he was a real person made her nervous. None of her family were churchgoers, and if anything made her more uncomfortable than boys, it was religious talk.
Then his dark mood seemed to lift, and he almost smiled. “How about going to a movie with me?”
His sudden change surprised her. Then she thought he must want to get his mind off his grandmother, and Betty was pleased he wanted to be with her.
“Yes, I’d like to,” she said, already thinking about what she would wear and how it would feel to walk up to the ticket window at the theater and have him say, “Two, please,” and how people nearby would see that someone liked her enough to take her out.
But his next question stopped her in mid-daydream.
“You’d really go to one of those sinful movies?” His eyes were narrowed, judging.
She swallowed hard, confused. “But—I thought you wanted—You asked me!”
“You do everything someone asks you to?”
Her face was hot. “Of course not!”
“Do you know movies lead the innocent to sin by showing people doing wrong and getting away with it? Even enjoying it?” He shrugged. “Course, I’m going to Hell anyway, because of my folks, so I got nothing to worry about. Do you?”
She ignored the question. “I’ve never heard that about movies before. Who told you that?”
“Gram. And Gram knows.” He leaned across the table, his blue eyes boring into her brown ones. “She knows everything about sin. She says movies are the Devil’s workshop. They corrupt minds and morals.” He leaned back in his chair. “Still want to go?”
Was he putting her on? “I don’t know.”
He shook his head, seemed disappointed. “I guess I was wrong about you. I’ve been watching you working around here, acting like a good daughter, never putting on makeup or worrying about some trinket to wear.” He looked up, gazing into her eyes again, probing her thoughts. “I thought you were a good girl.”
Her fingers clamped into the dishtowel. She looked at the floor, trying to think what to say.
He leaned across the narrow table, his mouth close to her ear. “Are you a good girl, Betty?”
Her head came up. “Of course, I am. I just never heard there was anything wrong with movies.”
He moved back. “You didn’t?”
She shook her head. “I sure won’t go to any, now that I know.”
“Not even with me?”
She hesitated and then pushed past her shyness. “I would like to go somewhere with you, but after what you said, I—well, I couldn’t go to a movie.”
He smiled a real smile, and she knew she’d said the right thing.