Thursday, December 25, 2008
One of the great joys of the Christmas season is the giving. It’s so much better than the receiving.
Saturday morning, I saw it in action, and the smiles were plentiful, along with some tears, too.
The volunteers with the Clydesdale Christmas Store, one of the best examples anywhere of the true spirit of giving, made the holidays brighter for many children who might not otherwise receive anything at this special time of year.
I arrived at the National Guard Armory about 9:10 a.m. The line was long outside – moms and dads and grandparents waiting with the youngsters in hopes of seeing Jolly Ole’ St. Nick.
As I entered from the back, organizers Ronnie and Brenda Luther were going over last-minute instructions with Santa Claus and his many elves.
Reverend Wilson led an inspirational prayer, filled with praise and thanksgiving, and that’s when I saw tears in the eyes of several of the volunteers.
This tremendous effort is from the heart. It’s about helping those less fortunate, which should be a mission of all of us, and not just at Christmastime.
Then the elves, who had already performed tons of preliminary work in preparation for the big day, went to their posts and started to work again. Some were working the front table; there was Ralph Doxey on the public address system; some were lining up families as they waited to see Santa; other volunteers were making sure the right gifts ended up with the right child as the happy youngsters visited with Mrs. Claus and then sat in Santa’s lap; others helped load the toys in cars; and so on and so forth. It was a well-organized team effort.
Seeing the children’s faces aglow as Santa pulled out toys or clothing or other gifts made for a special Saturday morning for this photographer.
It made me slow down, on what was to be a busy day, and think about what mattered most.
Be sure and see a future edition of The South Reporter for photos and a story from this year’s Clydesdale Christmas Store.
Based on what I witnessed firsthand Saturday morning, it was again a huge success. Praises go to the many volunteers who make it all possible. I’m sure they will be the first to tell you that being able to help with the Clydesdale Christmas Store is a tremendous blessing.
And this is just one example of giving this holiday season. Churches, civic groups, clubs, industries, businesses and many others are all bringing joy to children and adults in need at Christmastime.
One of the purposes of this pre-Christmas column is to simply say “thanks” to all of you.
Monday night, a group from our church planned to go to Christopher’s Personal Care Home, deliver gifts to each resident and sing Christmas carols. Hopefully, I got this newspaper to press (on early deadlines) soon enough to participate.
Most of all this week, I’m looking forward to being with family, enjoying the fellowship and making more Christmas memories.
But truth is - one that is standing out most with this writing is when I was a member of a civic club as a young college graduate still living in my hometown of Hamilton, Ala. We raised money for a “Christmas for Kids” program, which, by the way, still continues today, some 25 years later.
Then we each took a portion of the funds and went and purchased gifts for a particular family. I got to be Santa Claus for a day, and the true joy came in the delivering of the presents. It was a feeling I will never forget.
Let’s all remember - Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
But unfortunately, for some people it can be one of the worst times of the year, too.
And because of that, we should all be Santa’s elves.
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