Random Musings - Keeping Christmas in Your Heart the Whole Year

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Note: I was thinking about a Christmas post and how I am so proud of my children for their generosity. Sadly, I could not think of a way to write it without seeming self serving. I was talking to my wife and asked her to write down some of her own memories that I could use in the post. What she wrote was far better than anything I would have written, so I will share it with you. Merry Christmas everyone.

Christmas Memories
D. White - 2009

The only constant positive memory I had as a child was Christmas. There were some bad years thrown in for good measure, but we could usually count on my very temperamental father to be at his best at Christmas time. I really never knew why. Perhaps as a child it was one of his better memories during the lean depression years. He would often talk of the sense of community, of sharing he remembered during that time. And he recalled the generosity. He recalled fondly his father working all day and then staying up late into the night making toys for them.

So it was that every holiday season I could always count on a good Christmas at our house. No drama, no bad behavior. Christmas sparkled with magic and good will at our house. My earliest memories were that my father made sure we always thought of others during this season. No matter how lean the years were, we found a family in need and anonymously would shop for them and deliver it to their doorstep. I can remember running to the car after dropping boxes off and ringing a doorbell, watching from the car as they opened the door to find boxes of presents and Christmas dinner on the stoop. It was important to my father that this was an anonymous gesture. He is no longer here to ask why, but he continued this until he died. I can remember the last few years of his life, stopping by the house to find it filled with shoe boxes that he had filled with supplies to send to children in Africa, or he and my mother wrapping presents for someone from the Angel tree.

When we had a family of our own, this became our own tradition. Ever since our children were babies, my husband and I carried this tradition forward every year, no matter how lean the years were. My most memorable Christmas was when the boys were 5, 4, and 2. During these years I was at home with them. Jay worked long hours to keep our home fires burning, but he was always there supporting us. I took the boys out for our Christmas lunch and shopping trip. This year we were doing Toys for Tots, and I wanted each child to choose a gift to give away. Kyle was the baby, and at 2 years he was too young to understand the concept. But Jason and Daniel, at 5 and 4 respectively, understood by now that they were to choose something for another child to receive.

Daniel was very fond of a character named Darkwing Duck, and he wanted one of these toys more than anything. We were not financially able to buy them toys much during the year, so he had lived without one, and hoped Santa would finally bring one to him. When we arrived at the toy section of the store he was drawn like a magnet to the Darkwing Duck toys. Eyes like saucers, he looked at all of them on the wall and I knew he wanted one for himself. But he carefully chose one to give away, saying that some other kid probably really wanted one, too. Jason had gone through some recent painful health issues, and chose that year a soft stuffed animal to give, telling me that maybe another child was hurt too and would need something to hug. I knew they were really choosing gifts for themselves, something to comfort or bring joy to them. And I watched them with a parents pride as they purchased these gifts and took them right over to the Toys for Tots boxes to give away.

We had several Christmases like this. As they grew, they started to realize that Christmas wasn’t the only time people needed things they didn’t have. So we decided as a family to choose one meal a week where we would give our regular meal away to those who did not have enough. Each week we would pick one meal, calculate what we would have spent on groceries, and purchase food instead for the local food bank. They always helped choose the items, shopping with me to make every cent count. And we would gather these items for the month and then turn them in to the food bank.

It warms my heart that now that they are 23, 21 and 19, they are still giving. At Christmas they donate to their favorite causes or charities, but they also give of themselves. Through the year, they choose to spend time on causes or events they support – manning phones to raise money, helping to build a home, wrapping presents like the ones they used to buy when they were small. I’m not sure they even know why they do this; I think it has just become part of the rhythm of their lives. But watching them fills my heart, and I know that in this one small way, my dad did a good thing all those years ago. It may be his only good legacy to the world, but it is a lasting one.
Thank you Di. This one of the many reasons I adore you. Our children and their generosity is a reflection of you and your ongoing wish to help all people.

8 comments :

  1. That is just so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing that with us! Merry Christmas and Happy New year! outoftheblue

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  2. wow...so beautiful...it brought a tear to my eye...you are truly blessed with such a wonderful family, Jay!

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  3. Muriel9:06 AM

    Beautiful and sweet, refelctive of the writer's heart and soul. Merry Christmas! - Aunt Muriel

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  4. That is so wonderful.... I echo Mystic's comments in you really are truly blessed with such a wonderful family! xx

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  5. Anonymous11:42 AM

    What a soulful family, it warms me to know that you all gracefully give to others. Grandpa's spirit lives! zoiks

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  6. Lump in throat - this is the spirit of Christmas.

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  7. Gorgeous story! Thank you, Diane and Jay for sharing your beautiful selves and family with the world. It is certainly a better place for having you in it.

    Happy Christmas, lovely people:)

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  8. Great- if only more people were like your family. We also try to give to needy people at Christmas, rather than giving everything to friends who already have everything they could want. It is great when kids start giving when they are young- makes it much easier when they are older.
    Hope your Christmas was as peaceful and merry as ours. This year we just had a quiet time as we have had two homeless friends living with us for 3 months- and we only have one useable bedroom!

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