My mama grew up on a sharecropper farm. The house was a rough, ramshackle place. She didn’t live in a house with electricity until she was in high school. Water was carried in a bucket from the well.
She told me the story once of how somebody came out to their house and traced her foot on a piece of pasteboard. A few weeks later, she received a new pair of shoes.
Mama didn’t want us to go through the hard times that she did. She worked like crazy to make sure there was a reasonable haul underneath the Christmas tree.
I remember looking at the Sears Christmas catalog, which was dubbed “The Wish Book.” They had all the toys one could imagine. When it was time to make a list, the catalog was all dog-eared from our time of looking at all the great stuff. Some of it we would circle with a crayon.
I remember getting a Sears metal gas station. It was small enough for little cars, but it had an elevator that would take them to a parking area on the top of the miniature building.
One year, it was time to get a bike. Dad always did business with Sol Cohen’s bicycle shop in Atlanta, which had a jillion bikes.
When I was 10, I got a chopper bike with a small wheel on the front and regular wheel on the rear. Dad had it fitted with a horn and turn signals.
Nobody in Social Circle had one like that and I thought I was hot stuff.
My dad had a form of anemia and was sick several years on Christmas.
He would get a cold and it would develop into bronchitis. One year, he went and saw Santa and bought me a Hot Wheels oval track. That same year, Mama went and saw Santa and got the same thing. I had enough Hot Wheels to cross the living room. Santa just made a little mistake.
Which brings me to today. There are folks who think it is a sin if you don’t have a bunch of presents for everybody in your extended family. I think about what someone could do to help a stranger if they cut their Christmas giving by one present.
It doesn’t mean you love anybody less; it just means you have compassion for those in need. Those who work with the less fortunate are doing all they can to help folks.
There are little things that mean a lot, like sending a card to someone who has no family or calling someone on Christmas just to wish them well.
And get some heavy-duty disposable plates and take someone a meal. You may have limited choices for eating on Thanksgiving, but it really gets slim on Christmas.
These blessings will mean so much to the recipient, but they will also mean more to you. Christmas is about giving. Don’t forget that.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.