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Sunday, Sep. 14, 2014

Stories put season in right perspective

Sunday, December 22, 2002

I walked around the stores this week packed with shoppers hauling bundles twice their size. And I recall my parents' memories of their Christmas past. Though joyful, I'm sure, their generation's holidays were so much different that ours today.

My parents tell of Christmas mornings with perhaps one lone gift awaiting their anxious hands. And that gift was often homemade or so minimal it would be dismissed today almost as a joke. A piece of fruit or a small inexpensive toy would suffice because during the Depression, that's simply all there was. Many if not most of my parents' generation can remember the same Christmases with no spare funds to provide much in the way of holiday cheer.

I then compare those past experiences with the shoppers this week. It's easy to make the case that we go overboard for Christmas, even when the resources say we shouldn't.

It's far too easy to say we over-indulge for Christmas. We buy and buy for family and extended family, we want to make sure that wants and needs are met and so we join the herds lining the store aisles and we shop 'til we drop.

Even those who cannot afford to be spending their limited resources take the plunge. That's why come January so many people are scrambling to pay for the shopping frenzy that is currently underway. For too many, January brings troubles in the mail when the bills arrive.

I'm struck by all of the stories that resulted from this year's Community Christmas Campaign. But the most moving episode, to me at least, came in the form of a letter from a mother of seven and grandmother of one.

This Sikeston woman wrote a letter to Santa that arrived at the newspaper office. Her only request was for a warm house for her children on Christmas day. No gifts, no special presents - - she just wanted heat for her family. To make a long story short, we provided funds to assist her and yet we have no guarantee that her home is any warmer today than yesterday. Maybe next week we'll talk to her landlord and see if we can deliver a last minute gift.

The point of all of this rambling is as follows. We have so much for which to be thankful this holiday season. It truly hits home when we see others in need or when we recall how our parents' generation celebrated this special season.

Kids today would laugh at the sight of a single orange under the Christmas tree. And yet not too long ago, this was the reality of Christmas. We all should stop and think just how fortunate we truly are. It helps to put the season in perspective.



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