Thursday, January 24, 2008
A Christmas not forgotten
By SUE WATSON
Santa would have missed a family in Holly Springs last Christmas but for a group of supporters who remembered what it would be like to have nothing under the tree.
Masheeta Lindsey-Hill chronicled the story of how Santa got the message of a family of seven who were not expecting gifts because the grandfather, who had always helped Santa, had died.
“I was taking the mother to the store and we were talking about Christmas,” Hill began. “She mentioned she was living on her own with her kids, age nine, seven, and two sets of twins, ages two and one.”
Hill said she asked the mother if she had decorated for Christmas.
“She said, ‘No,’ and told me one of her boys had asked if Santa Claus was coming this year. She explained to him why he wasn’t coming.”
Hill said a script began playing out in her mind of the children going to school and kids asking them what they got for Christmas.
“They would have to say they didn’t get anything,” Hill said. “It bothered me.”
Hill was on vacation and had time to mull over the problem. She shared the problem with a friend.
“I told my friend and he agreed we needed to do something,” she said. “There are six children.”
Hill later was talking to another Rust College friend who noticed she was not her usual happy self.
“He was asking about this strange look on my face,” said Hill. “I felt like I should share this with someone and I just told him about the family.”
That friend had a sleepless night.
“The next day he called me and told me my twins had kept him up at night and I asked, What twins? And he said, ‘The babies you told me about.’ He said, ‘Let’s go to Wal-Mart.’ ”
By this time it was just four days before Christmas. Earlier in the day a third friend from Rust College who had heard about the family need called Hill and made a donation.
Hill had also spoken with her cousin in Jackson, who works with a group that donates gifts to children in Holly Springs.
“Then I called the Department of Children and Family Services in Holly Springs.”
She was told Wal-Mart was going to make a donation and more gifts could be on the way.
Hill and two friends who had children or grandchildren went shopping. They knew what to look for at Wal-Mart, she said. While at Wal-Mart the three shoppers labeled the shopping bags according to each child’s sex and age.
Before leaving, they bought a gift certificate for the mother.
Hill said she had a little city with lights in her family room as a decoration and so the three happy shoppers arranged the gifts around the table. That evening, the mother and a neighbor came by to visit.
The mother was moved to tears.
During that visit, Hill said they had to arrange a way to tell the children that Santa Claus was coming after all, since the children had been told there would be no visit from Santa.
Hill went with the mother to her house where the children were gathered around the television set. Hill said aloud that she had received a phone call from Santa but the children did not notice that remark, she said.
The mother asked the children to turn down the television, then the mother asked Hill, “What did you say?”
“I said I got a call from Santa and I asked him, ‘Why are you calling me?’ ”
Hill told the children that Santa told her on the phone that he was not coming to her house because she had been bad. Further, she said Santa told her he couldn’t come to the children’s house because their chimney was closed (to explain why the children were originally told Santa would not be coming to their house for Christmas).
“But he said, your chimney is not closed,” Hill told the children. “That’s why your toys are coming to my house. Then one of the children said that since I had already been bad (it was too late for this year) I could start being good for next year.”
On Friday before Christmas, Hill got a call from Family Services to come by for the gifts. Saturday night before Christmas, fireman Robert Woods brought by gifts for the children.
Woods, a volunteer firefighter and minister, said buying gifts for the children was a joy and a duty.
“Being a preacher, we have to do what God gives us to do,” he said. “We give from the heart to reach to the heart. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
By Christmas Eve all that remained on Santa’s shopping list was fruit. Another friend with Rust College helped Hill buy fruit.
Santa’s preparations were completed.
Early Christmas morning just after 8 a.m. the mother and children arrived at Hill’s home. She pointed to her chimney which was surrounded by gifts.
“One look on their faces said it all,” Hill said.
Gifts included dolls; remote control cars; children’s chairs; a firetruck; a bucket and shovel set; an action figure; a Clifford, The Big Red Dog; a building block construction set; and other toys.
Later Christmas Day, Hill visited the children to see how they were doing.
“They were so busy playing it was not even funny,” she said. “They were happy and excited.
“The mother told me she was glad God put it on my heart to help with her family because her children would not have had Christmas.”
Hill said she wishes to thank all who helped make a joyful Christmas for the children, including the Baptist Student Union Campus Gospel Choir of Rust College.
“I want to thank everyone who helped, especially since I don’t have children and never had any children,” she said. “But I do love children.”
(And Santa loves them, too).
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