It was nearing the Christmas season and I really wanted to write an essay on what this season meant to me. But I kept putting it off. Then a couple of neighbors and friends came along with their negative feelings. It was like,

Deck the halls with boughs of holly

ĎTis the season to be jolly.

Bah! Hum Bug! Not for me by golly

Just a lot of expensive folly.

Itís only a season for children anyway

And there ainít no Santa and ainít no sleigh.

Only thing good about it I can say

Is, I get a day off and still draw my pay.

The merchants have all devised a plot

To get rich by raising the price a lot

Then say itís on sale. Well, I think not

And I wonít spend money I havenít got.

So, thereíll be no gift to you from me

And I sure wonít bother to put up a tree.

Just a lot of rot, far as I can see.

Oh, by the way. What are you giving me?

I tend to pick up on negativity. For a little while. Then something or someone comes along, gives me a little slap and says, wake up, these are not your thoughts, not your feelings. This time it was a someone.

A very dear friend of mine called this morning and asked if I would like to go Christmas shopping. I knew she was being kind because I was temporarily out of transportation and since I needed to get some shopping done and since I enjoy being with my friend, I said yes. But I was in the negative frame of mind and was dreading the shopping, the crowds and the expense. While I waited for her to pick me up I thought about how simple Christmas was when I was a child and wished it could be that way now.

I went back in time and recalled going out into the woods on a snowy, Christmas Eve morning, with my brother and grandfather to find the perfect tree. We found it and my grandfather chopped it down, tied a rope around the base and we all had a hand in pulling it home. My brother and I spent the day making decorations. We took turns stringing popped corn into long ropes and cutting strips from different colored construction paper and gluing them together to make chains. In the evening we decorated the tree with angel hair, the ropes and chains, a few ornaments and tinsel, which we called icicles. When my grandfather topped it off with a gold star, it touched the ceiling. There were no lights but it was beautiful.

When we went into the living room on Christmas morning, there, beneath the tree were our gifts. We had one each and they were not wrapped in pretty paper, they didnít even have name tags. We were smart kids, we figured since one gift was for a girl, that must be mine and one for a boy, that must be my brothers.

The most marvelous thing of all about Christmas morning was the aroma coming from our stockings. They were hung from the door frame because we had no fireplace. Inside the stockings we found a big, red, apple, an orange, a tangerine, a banana and a variety of nuts in the shell and a candy cane. The stocking was as important to us as the gift. We had apples but not the big, red, juicy ones and we had peaches, plums, blackberries and blueberries but oranges, tangerines, bananas and nuts were a rarity we seldom had. Not because we were poor but we lived in a very small town with two small grocery stores and they were not like the super markets of today that carries every thing from soup to nuts.

There were no spoiled brats in our town, where everybody knew everybody, that whined and cried for every new thing they saw. Their parents did not go in debt with charge cards or spend money they needed for something else to buy the new, "in things" for their children in order to keep up with, or out best the Jonesís. When we asked our friends what they got for Christmas, it didnít take them an hour to tell us because they got so many things they couldnít remember.

We received presents on our birthday and Christmas. In the mean time we used our imaginations and made our own toys. We made our kites out of newspaper, with sticks and twine and used old rags for the tail. They soared as high as any modern kite of today. Our Frisbees were dried up cow patties.

Our sleds were cardboard boxes we used to slide down hills in summer as well as winter. When we played war, which did not harm our personalities in any way, our guns were carved out of wood. The trigger was a clothes pin and the ammunition was a large rubber band we made from cutting up old inner tubes. While it did not harm our minds, it did smart the skin and raise a whelp if we happened to get hit with one of those rubber bands.

The thing I remember most about Christmas as a child is, that we were taught Christmas is a celebration of love. I wonder how many children today know the true meaning of Christmas, or adults, for that matter. One gift under the tree just wonít do. There has to be more and more and they have to be expensive.

Today, after my friend picked me up, we pulled into the parking lot of one of the shopping centers and there was a homeless looking man on the corner, he had a dog with him. My friend said, "Thatís so sad." I agreed but put the man and his dog from my mind. We shopped for a while and decided to go somewhere else. As we approached the man on the corner, my friend pulled over and said she was going to give him some money. Knowing my friend, this did not surprise me. The man came over to the car and she handed him the money. He thanked her and said, "God bless you." and started to walk away. She said, "Wait, I have something for your dog." and handed him a box of dog food she purchased in the store we had just left. Again, this did not surprise me as she is an animal lover.

Now, I like to think that I am a good and caring person also but I said, "You know that could be a scam, that dog looks like it has been well cared for."

To which she replied, " I know. But if it isnít, then I Ďve done what my heart told me and if it is; well, it didnít break me."

That act was a celebration of love. Love for the Christ child who gave the greatest gift of all. We canít wrap love in pretty paper or put a tag on it but we can give it freely, as my friend did, to everyone we meet, each day of the year because thatís the true meaning of Christmas. I fully agree with my negative friends that it

has become overly commercialized but we donít have to let it be that way. We can keep it simple and most of all sacred.

My friend preformed three celebrations of love today and perhaps more that I donít know about. I am sure she is quite unaware of it. It just sort of comes natural with her.

She gave her time and money to a total stranger without judging him. She saw that an animal would not go hungry and she woke the spirit of Christmas that was napping in my heart.

So, hereís a toast to you my friend, in the form of a poem that I realize is not the greatest poem ever written but it tells it the way I see it.




To Dottie



If the world were filled with people like you

Flowers would bloom everywhere,

The hand of friendship would be offered by all

And each heart would be humbled in prayer.

No children or animals would be abused,

All the world would be at peace.

The homeless and hungry would be sheltered and fed

For hatred and greed would cease.

The artists brush and the poets song

Would soothe us along our way

And weíd have a celebration of love all year long

With Christmas in our hearts everyday.

If the world were filled with people like you.

By Lora Cox 2001

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