From the Heart
Christmas should be all year long!
From the Heart
Written by Barbara Williams
I tend to never had time to eat breakfast since my job was an hour away from home. Today was no different as I was stopped by a red light to put on my mascara and eyeliner. The loud beeps of a horn, made me look into the rear view mirror and mumble, but accelerate down the long highway in the morning traffic. Every day was the same scenery, and to make the ride more exciting I picked certain areas as my favorite spots to watch when riding by.
Being not so ambidextrous sometimes I swerved towards the area I was looking at just like the morning I first seen an older gentleman with white hair sitting in a rocking chair on his porch watching the cars go by. There was some absurd relationship with that man even though we never met. He always was bent over a bit either watching the cars or looking down at his porch floor, and it became a habit to watch for him every morning. Even in the winter when I went by he would be there with his heavy tattered overcoat on and always looked sad.
Between working and family my life was busy, besides the two hour drive back and forth to work which added an additional day to my work week just in travel time. I just moved back to my home town and I visited my mother on the way home every night.
Christmas was coming and my mother always overdid things, cooking and gifts were exaggerated in quantity, and we used to sit and talk while she prepared food or wrapped gifts. My salary just paid for my house, car, and bills since I was a single young woman buying my own home. She needed my company and moral support after just losing my eighteen year old brother with bone cancer.
We convinced her that first Christmas without him we should continue our tradition of celebrating with the entire family, and when she wasn’t cooking or wrapping gifts I took her shopping and it kept her mind off things. One morning we were going shopping and she finally got to see the old man I had been watching for nine months as he sat there on the porch that day too, looking quite sad and lonely.
She taught me to be frugal and I tended to get on well with my salary, but only had so much money for Christmas. My family wasn’t fussy and liked small presents wrapped; it was the thought that counted. I had seventy five dollars in my budget for Christmas shopping and went to a department store known for a variety of goods, but not quality. There was a plastic set for the kitchen table with bright yellow ducks on the sugar bowl and butter dish, and it even had a napkin holder. I thought of the old man and bought the set for him.
Excited; I burst into my mother’s house on the way home and showed her all the gifts I bought except hers of course. She asked who the plastic table set was for, and I told her the old man on the porch. She smiled, and just mentioning him made my stomach have butterflies. I was shy and didn’t know if I would be brave enough to go to his house and give him the gift.
The day before Christmas Eve I braved a small storm to drive a mile from my mother’s house since I was visiting her again. The snow was light and hit against the windshield making driving hard since my vision wasn’t good. I pulled up in his driveway and walked up the porch steps to knock on the door.
He stood there much taller than I expected since I always saw him sitting, or slouched forward. He didn’t smile once and greeted me in a gruff voice.
“What do you want?”
That set me back a bit, and I had the gifts wrapped in my hand and answered with a smile.
“I see you every day when I pass by and wondered if I could give these to you for Christmas.”
He wasn’t impressed and held the door half open, narrowing his eyes as he shook his head no.
“I don’t need charity, those others were just here and I sent them on their way.”
That confused me.
“Someone else brought you a gift?”
I handed him the gifts through the door opening and he shut the door before I could give them to him.
“Get out of here girlie, get on your way.”
All that joy and expectation of making him happy made my spirit drop, and I trudged back to my car to drive home. I didn’t even stop at my mother’s I was so disappointed. About a half hour later she called my house to see how he liked his gifts.
I had to admit he didn’t even take them, and heard silence on the phone for a minute.
“You offered with all your heart be sure you remember that and never let pride drive your spirit away.
I choked back tears hearing her say that after she just lost her only son, my brother, and to this day remember to share my heart, and tuck my pride away.
Days later after the Christmas holidays I seen him, on the porch once again sitting there slumped over looking at the traffic go by.
I didn’t feel sorry that he didn’t take the gifts, but I did feel sorry he refused to share the Christmas spirit my family experienced.
A lesson learned Christmas is in one’s heart, not in the gifts we receive.
© B. A. Williams 1997-2014