A favorite Christmas story is told by Dina Donahue in Guideposts magazine. The story is about a nine-year-boy named Wally Purling. Wally was big for his age, and some people said that he was a little slow. But even though he was big, he wasn’t a bully. In fact, everybody liked him. He was nice to all the little kids, and he even stood up for them when he had a chance.
His class was doing a Christmas program, and Wally wanted to be in it. He wanted to a shepherd, but the teacher had another part in mind for him. She wanted him to be the innkeeper because he was so big. Wally took the part home and studied it. He practiced hard.
The night came for the play, and everything was going smoothly. It came to that time when Mary and Joseph knocked on the door of the inn.
Wally opened the door and said, “What do you want?”
Joseph said, “We need a place to stay for the night.”
“You’ve got to go someplace else; the inn is full,” Wally explained.
“Are you sure?” Joseph asked. “We’ve come a long way, and it’s cold.”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Wally sadly answered. “There’s no place here. Go someplace else.”
Joseph persisted: “But Mary is about to have a baby. Isn’t there some corner we can hide in?”
At that point in the play there was silence, one of those embarrassing silences that make you believe that somebody has forgotten a line. Wally stood there, not saying anything. The prompter whispered, “No, go away!” So Wally repeated the line, “No, go away!” Joseph put his arm around Mary and they turned to walk away.
It was at this point that the Christmas play took an unusual turn. Wally was big – and he had a heart just as big. He couldn’t stand to see Mary and Joseph walking away. So he suddenly said, “Aw, wait a minute, Joseph. Bring Mary back. You can have my room. I’ll sleep out in the cold.”
Some people say that the Christmas story that night was ruined, but I think Wally got it right.