In our day of plenty and abundance we tend to take for granted all the bounty that is ours on a daily basis. Most of us don’t have to worry about a roof over our heads, good food to eat, or even having many of our ‘wants’ gratified.
As some of you know, my mother was a prolific writer and as I was looking over some of her stories I was brought to tears by the one of my mother as a little girl with the same desires of all children, that Santa would bring her the thing she desired most. The thing is, this happened during the depression era and she was the twelfth and youngest child of an ageing farmer whose struggle to feed and care for his family was a constant worry. There was nothing left over for ‘wants’ even at Christmas time. They were lucky to get an orange and/or an apple in their stocking, along with some homemade vinegar taffy if they were truly fortunate.
My children and grandchildren have been privy to this story for several years but I thought my extended family and friends would enjoy it. This then is the story as she, Lora Lane Wright, told it.
“I poignantly recall the Christmas when I was seven years old and we were in the grip of the Great Depression. I knew not to expect many gifts, but I still half believed in Santa and I yearned for a “Mama” doll.
The annual community Christmas party in Conway was held in the school building and my family and I walked the short distance, carrying a kerosene lantern to light the way. This was a fun event and the men seemed to have the most fun of all as they tried to outdo each other with ludicrous and sometimes ribald gifts. There was much laughter and light-hearted banter as they enjoyed a brief respite from the almost insurmountable worry that was pandemic during those dismal years.
As we entered the building, a doll hanging on the tree caught my eye. I had no doubt that it was for me. At last, Santa took it down and started straight toward me. I was half way out of my seat and ready to reach for it when my mother gently pulled me back into the circle of her arm. Santa passed by me and gave the doll to a girl sitting behind me.
As we walked home, my mother held one of my hands and my brother held the other. With his other hand he carried the lantern. Suddenly, I began to cry. Without a word, he passed the lantern to my sister, swung me up on his shoulder and carried me home. The doll wasn’t mentioned.
On Christmas morning, I crept into the room where our tree stood. Midst the paper chains and strings of popcorn hung the most beautiful doll I had ever seen, far prettier than the one I had so coveted. It not only said “mama,” it also closed and opened its eyes.
My sister had been fortunate enough to get a job during the holidays and had spent most of a week’s salary for the doll. That was the year I learned for sure that Santa is real and his other name is “love.”
Let us remember this Christmas that Santa is real and what his other name is. Let us remember also those less fortunate than ourselves, especially God’s sweet, yearning children. Let us remember that Christ uses us to do his work and spread his love and cheer…Merry Christmas!