A Winters Express opinion column
Christmas Eve of 1944 stands out as a treasured memory. I was seven years of age when my father came home from work driving a large truck that was owned by the company he worked for. He announced that we were going to deliver Christmas presents. I was to be his helper and he dressed me in my snow suit, mittens and galoshes.
He lifted me up so that I could see that the back of the van was loaded with many toys and wrapped gifts. I will never forget one mother who answered the door to our knocking. She was in her early 20s and she held a baby in her arms. A little girl of four or five years of age was standing behind her holding to her mother’s skirt.
When I passed one of the gifts through the door the mother had tears in her eyes. In the kindest tone possible she said, “Thank you so very much.” Even at my young age I thought to myself, “why should I receive the thanks for whoever donated and wrapped these gifts and provided a delivery truck.”
As I reflected on this experience later in life I came to realize that all of the mothers who answered the door that evening were young and that their husbands were most likely serving in the military during WW2. Some of those husbands would have been away at war for years. Undoubtedly, some of the fathers of babies held in their mother’s arms had never seen their son or daughter except in photographs and a few never would see them.
As I reflect on other Christmases it seems the most treasured memories are those that involved giving rather than what was received. Perhaps the practice of giving gifts at Christmas started with the biblical accounting of the Wise Men who sought out the Christ child bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
I never tire of the story and our long held family tradition on Christmas Eve is to read the story of the child in the manger, the shepherds abiding in the field and the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
I quote Tiny Tim, “God Bless us everyone.”