She couldn't feed her baby. She couldn't even afford to feed herself.
She begged and begged on the street that cold winter's night, asking people for food for her and her dying child.
A wealthy old lady saw this sight, saw the freezing family of two and felt sorrow in her heart.
She approached the woman and said to her.
"Here, come with me."
"N-no." the woman said scared and the lady told her.
"I-it's okay, I can give you a bed and food for you and your baby. Trust me."
The woman looked at the lady and sighed, a tear falling down her cheek. She took her hand and followed her into the carriage.
When she stepped out of it again she saw a mansion, covered in beautiful glowing lamps, with pine trees covered in tinsel and bells, going up the entrance way.
She came into the home, seeing maids and servants quickly hurry to cover the woman and her baby with warm cloaks and clothes.
She was frightened. When the baby began to breathe properly again and eat, the old lady led the young woman to a room to let her baby sleep there.
But the young woman just asked frightened.
"Why are you doing this all for me?"
The child was snoozing quietly now, in peace, and the old lady just put her finger to her lips, shushing the woman and waving her to come into the large sitting area.
The woman felt afraid to sit on a warm large lounge, but she did, trembling as a maid handed her a teacup and a saucer.
The old lady began.
"When I was around your age... I was a maid for the very man who owned this house. We fell in love, but he said he would never marry a lower class than him. I fell pregnant... and he told me to get rid of the baby."
The woman trembled as she held the shaking teacup in her hands.
"I told him no, and that our secret would come out. But he gave me an offer I couldn't refuse."
"That he would will the house to me in his death if I gave up the baby... or else, I would lose my job and be thrown out into the freezing snow... that Christmas night. Just like tonight."
"So what did you do...?"
"I gave her up."
"I'm so sorry..."
"She was put in an orphanage, and I never saw her again... but I always remember the name I gave her. My own name, Grace..."
The woman froze stiff, in hearing that name, and looked up at the old lady.
"My name is..."
The old lady stiffened as well.
"I grew up... in an..."
"What day is it...?" the young woman begged, thinking about her baby girl asleep in the bed and the old lady said with tears coming to her eyes.
"Merry Christmas, m-mum..." Grace said, smiling as tear drops rolled down her cheeks and she cried in bittersweet joy.
The old lady looked at her and wiped her own eyes, saying as she sat down on the lounge next to her daughter, and held her hand, smiling with a hope she never felt she would ever have been given again.
"Merry Christmas... my dear Grace."