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Sometimes hard times can wind up shaping your life in ways you never expected — even at Christmas. Especially at Christmas. 

Fox News Channel’s John Roberts, who serves as coanchor of “America Reports,” shares an unforgettable story about a loss he suffered as a child — and how he emerged grateful for lessons learned as a result. 

His essay appears in the new book “All American Christmas” by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy. 

Most of his “valuable lessons,” as Roberts calls them, are the result of the thought, dedication, and hard work his loving mother poured into caring for her three children. She gave them all she could, using the resources she had available to her at the time.

Check out this excerpt from Roberts’ much longer piece in the book — and share your thoughts about it afterward in the comments section (below this article). The story is sure to touch many readers.

Read these sentiments of gratitude from John Roberts

John Roberts in All American Christmas: I’m enormously grateful that, for the vast majority of Christmases I experienced, I have only positive moments to now reflect on.

I know that’s not true for lots of other people. Whether because of loss or hardships, some people haven’t enjoyed Christmas as much as I have.

The holiday season for me hasn’t been perfect, mind you, but compared to what others go through, I’ve been very, very fortunate.

John Roberts with his young twins, Kellan and Sage, at the White House one Christmas in a photo that appears in ‘All American Christmas.’ "I’ve been fortunate," Roberts says — and shares a personal story of perseverance through hardship. 
(John Roberts)

Still, I can empathize with those less fortunate people because the one Christmas I had that was far from perfect, far from good, was a very painful one for my family and me.

It was also the one that taught me some very valuable lessons about perseverance and rising above tough circumstances. Those are important lessons, and I’ve never forgotten them.

My father died in late November 1962, right before I turned six years old. He had a congenital defect in his aorta, the main and largest artery that distributes blood throughout the body. 

Because of his condition, he had high blood pressure in his chest and head, and low blood pressure in his legs and feet. He worked a high-stress job, and he was, as I recall, a pretty high-strung guy.

“My mother is the reason why I enjoyed a pretty good life growing up. She set me on the track to later success.” 

How much his health concerns contributed to that is difficult to say, but one day at work he had an aneurysm. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, which he survived. 

Then my mom came home from the hospital, stood in the middle of the living room with my brother, my sister, and me, and said simply, “Daddy died.”

As a five-year-old, it was difficult to process that sort of blow. 

My sister, my mother, and I all huddled together. I could feel them quaking from their tears.

My older brother was at the dining room table, where he’d been doing his homework. I heard his pencil drop. It was like that sound voiced the concern that we all had: “Okay, where do we go from here?”

I don’t know if my mother knew immediately the answer to that question, but in time, God bless her, she sure made things happen. She worked long hours at simple jobs for little pay, but she made our lives work. 

She is the reason why I enjoyed a pretty good life growing up. She set me on the track to later success.

Roberts with his twins, Sage and Kellan, at the White House at Christmastime — another of the photos (along with memories, traditions, recipes, and more) that are featured in ‘All American Christmas.’ Roberts says he cherishes making new Christmas memories each year with his kids and wife Kyra.
(John Roberts)

We did not have many material things, but I believe that’s a good thing for a child to experience and learn from. If you have everything handed to you as a child, you’ll never learn how to make things happen for yourself …

Somehow [my mother] also managed to make that first Christmas work for all of us. While we didn’t receive much in the way of gifts because there wasn’t much money to go around, the greatest gift she gave us was to keep a roof over our heads.

In fact, she hung on to [our] house [outside of Toronto] until she was ninety-three years old and had to go into a home because of Alzheimer’s. 

But God bless her for all she did for my siblings and me.

I learned very valuable lessons from her that Christmas, and those lessons were to believe in yourself, to work hard, to know the value of a dollar, and to live up to your commitments.

So that was probably — from the standpoint of life lessons and their effect on your life — the seminal Christmas for me.

Thankfully, I learned those difficult and painful lessons early on.

Excerpted from All American Christmas by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy. To purchase a copy, click here. 

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