We can make things better for some of them | Opinion



“Christmas is sights, especially Christmas sights reflected in the eyes of a child.” – William Saroyan (1908 – 1981), Armenian American novelist, playwright and short story writer.

With each hole washed out in the dirt road, my truck rebelled on impact, throwing the front toward one ditch or the other.

The weather outside was cold and rainy. Inside the vehicle, where it was warmer, I grabbed the steering wheel in hopes that the battle between my truck and the holes in the road wouldn’t tear it out of my hands. Slower speed might have made the trip less violent, but it wasn’t worth the risk of getting stuck in the back of nowhere in the far reaches of the county. In 1986, cell phones were still part of the future Christmas.

“What are we looking for, dad,” asked the son, Lee, then six, who turns 41 as Christmas approaches.

“A house here a few steps to the right,” I explained. “At least it’s supposed to be around here somewhere.

“If we can’t find him, maybe Santa Claus can,” he replied with youthful optimism.

“Lee, if Santa could find him,” suggested his then eight-year-old and now 43-year-old philosopher sister Robin, “We probably wouldn’t look for him.”

Finally, we found our first destination, a muddy driveway near three small old, unpainted houses. Each had smoke billowing from a stovepipe chimney jutting out from somewhere. Small wooden sticks were stacked nearby, but the aroma in the air smelled more of burnt garbage.

There were no meters. The houses were separated only by broken household items: washing machines, sofa frames, bicycles and a scrap car or two. As I walked around the “neighborhood”, I suddenly worried that the large baskets of Christmas toys and food that we had with us were small, compared to needs.

Sunday afternoons like this were a regular practice during the Christmas season back then as a member of the Noon Lions Club Center distributing civic club food and toy baskets. Most of the time, I took my children with me.

For a moment it was quiet. Robin and Lee watched, but neither said a word. Getting out of my truck, I got out of the heat of my vehicle and into a fairly large mud puddle. Recovering, I searched for the door to the nearest house to verify our location.

A dim light shone through the window, and the muffled bark of the dogs came from under the porch as I raised my hand to knock. Beside that dilapidated door was the rusty frame of a bicycle. There was no chain or tires, and next to it was a worn doll.

In a window was a child’s drawing of Santa Claus with, “It’s Christmas time Oh, Oh, Oh,” in probably the same child’s handwriting. At first I wondered if this was a St. Nick’s Ho-Ho-Ho spelling mistake or a sad message of desperation.

Inside, family members huddled near the wood-burning stove as the temperature was not much different from the outside one meter away from it.

We shared the Lion’s Club basket with Christmas dinner preparations and children’s toys while visiting and learning each other’s names. Then, wishing the family a Merry Christmas, we set out to find another place on our list.

As we drove leisurely down mudder roads, Robin asked, “Why isn’t Christmas the same for all children?” “

“Well honey,” I told her, “If we don’t get lost in the hour ahead, I’ll try to tell you. But maybe during that time we can make things better for a few of them. “

Prayers for a Merry Christmas to all through the eyes of a child.

And a wish of special blessings for the many people and organizations who spend their Christmas time and money trying to make it a better memory for others.



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