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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saving Christmas – There’s still time

Christmas 1968, my Father had been in and out of the hospital with back problems. He had just had major back surgery. Back then it was a very big deal, he was in the hospital at least a month. My Mother didn’t drive, but she dutifully took 3 buses each way to visit him daily while we were at school. On her half a mile walk home from the bus stop she would stop at the grocery store and purchase just what she could carry and what she could afford.

My Mother didn’t work outside the home, so we had to live on my Father’s small disability check. We were forewarned not to expect much for Christmas. I’m not sure if it was my Mother’s not so subtle way of letting us know that year was different, or maybe she was so tired from her bus travel, but my Mother didn’t put up the 7 foot artificial tree. That year we had a 4 foot silver aluminum tree that my mother put on the drum table in the picture window. It was truly a hideous tree and it forever marked a very different Christmas for us.

One night a few days before Christmas our front doorbell rang. My Father was still in the hospital and my Mother wondered who on earth could be ringing our bell after dinnertime on a cold snowy night. My Mother didn’t want to open the door, but I kept imploring that she HAD to open it because as I peeked through the picture window I saw it was Santa Claus! She finally did open the door, but wouldn’t let Santa in the house. He left 2 very large boxes on our front porch. Each box was 3 foot square, about 10 inches tall. One box was full of all kinds of food. There was cereal, flour, sugar, roasts, chickens, pasta and all sorts of canned goods. The other box had candy canes, chocolates, some clothing, hats, scarfs and mittens, and some coloring books. My Mother, proud as she was, kept calling back to Santa to take back the boxes, but he waved her off and disappeared into the night.

That Christmas was very lean. It was the year my sister and I got our first Monopoly game and Mini-Mod dolls instead of Barbies. At the time we were both a bit disheartened by the lack of Christmas loot, but as the years have passed I have to say that it was the one of the most memorable Christmases of my life. I was 7 years old and Santa came to my house and made my Mother cry. I don’t think I’d ever seen her cry before that. All that food helped us get by until my Father was able to go back to work. It was truly a Blessing.

We later found out that Santa was the brother-in-law of my parent’s neighbors, Tim and Terry. They said they had gone door to door and collected money from the neighbors and purchased all of those items. Terry knew my mother wasn’t going to ask for help and she knew she wouldn’t accept charity from her neighbors. A heartfelt note from Terry in one of the boxes told my Mother it was alright, it didn’t mean she owed anyone anything. It didn’t mean she was weak. It meant she was cared about. It meant she was loved.

Do you know someone who is struggling, whether because of illness, disability or unemployment, or perhaps a single mother struggling on her own?
There’s still time.

It’s not too late to save someone’s Christmas.

It wouldn’t take much. Maybe a bag or two of groceries, or a grocery store gift card and a couple of toys.

A Santa suit isn’t required.

Just a bit of cash and a big dose of holiday spirit.
Happy Holidays!


Lola's Diner
©2008

8 comments:

I am Harriet said...

I had those mini mod dolls. funny.
Neat memory.

DCRose said...

Lola, I can so relate to your childhood. I grew up in the poor part of Boston, MA with 9 children, a stay at home uneducated Mom, and a father that worked in the shipyard. My father broke his back one year. Christmas Eve was very sad for my mom that year. At midnight a truck pulle up in front of our house. My uncle was a fireman and he had just helped put out a fire in a neighboring town. It was a toy store. The owner of the store asked if the firemen knew of any families needing toys for Christmas. My uncle was one of the firemen that played Santa that year. The toys were a little smoke damaged but it was a Christmas I would never forget.
In turn, I help many causes through the year. Pay it forward!

Babette said...

I remember when I was younger, my parents would sponsor an orphan from a local orphanage. The child spends a day with us and we gave him clothes and toys. We know it's just a temporary fix but it was nice to see the smiles on their faces when they open the gifts.

Nowadays, every Christmas, I pick a card from the 'gift giving tree' in the clubstore and purchase whatever item they need that is listed on that card.

JD at I Do Things said...

What a nice post. Each member of our family picks a charity or needy family and talks at X-mas dinner about that cause or person and why we chose it/them. It's really a nice tradition, and makes me think more about how to give.

You're right: It's not too late, and it doesn't have to be anything large or expensive. The smallest thing can make a huge difference.

Happy holidays!

JD at I Do Things

Lola said...

I Am Harriet:

Thanks.

DCRose:

How nice that your Uncle thought of your family.

DCRose, Babette, JD:

It's so nice to hear that even with the bad economy people are still willing and able to donate to a charity at a time when there are people having trouble just putting food on the table. As I mentioned in an earlier post, in lieu of a traditional grab bag my partner's family is picking names and donating to that person's charity of choice. We are also doing what we can to help a single mother of 2 little ones have a good Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

On The Verge said...

What a lovely story and a beautiful message to share. Happy Holidays!

Claudine said...

That is a very inspiring story there :) It has a very good message to everyone too. The value of giving in Christmas is often forgotten by people today and I am glad that you posted this entry to remind everyone. Happy holidays!

Jodi said...

Have a very Merry Christmas along with your family. God bless.

Jodi

 
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