Columns

Helping Hand & a magical Christmas

I’ll always remember one special Christmas.

Until I was in the third grade, my brother and I lived with our grandparents in a farm house located across town from our parents’ home. Our mother and father both worked (a rarity in the 1950s), and it was deemed easier for all concerned for us to be in our grandparents’ care until Johnny and I were a little older.
One holiday, mother and father had arranged to spend “The Night Before Christmas” at our grandparents’ home so we could celebrate Christmas morning together. To my recollection, this was the only time that had occurred.
Prior to that, we kids had helped Pap decorate a huge fir tree set up in the dining room. Even at that time, a lot of the ornaments were vintage having been brought from Germany. I particularly remember cunning wax figures, delicately colored blown glass balls and, of course, strands of silver tinsel, which Pap insisted had to hang “just right.” I considered that, the final decorating touch to the tree, a trifle tedious. However, accented with multi-colored strings of large electric bulbs, the end result was undeniably spectacular.
After mom and dad arrived, we enjoyed a special dinner prepared by my grandfather who, shortly after marrying my grandmother, had been designated the cook of the family.
A couple hours later, everyone toddled off to their respective bedrooms, and, after a futile attempt to await the arrival of the Jolly Old Elf, my brother and I drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, we kids clattered down the stairs and were greeted by a sight that I will never forget. The Christmas tree, alight in all its splendor, glowed softly in the early morning light. And, after eluding detection, Santa Claus had magically entered the house through a sealed-up chimney and deposited his gifts under and around the towering tannenbaum.
Of course, I remember none of the gifts I received that Christmas, but I can always picture in my mind that magical moment when I paused on the stairs, absorbing the beauty of the scene – a perfectly decorated tree shimmering in the soft light of morning surrounded by beautifully wrapped presents. The perfection of that moment has never been replicated.
The gist of this Christmas memory is that every child, no matter his or her economic status, deserves a special holiday. And the folks at the Helping Hand Crisis Center work tirelessly to provide underprivileged families in Bandera County with magical moments this season.
To aid the effort, members of the community are urged to drop off new, unwrapped toys, games and books to the Helping Hand offices, 1116 12th St. in Bandera as part of the “Spirits of Christmas Presents” program. Later, a call will go out for volunteers to assist wrapping and distributing the collected holiday gifts.
“Please don’t forget less fortunate children this holiday season,” urged executive director Jesse Parks. “We want to make sure every child in the county has a Merry Christmas this year and, to do that, we need the generous assistance of our community.”
For more information on how to provide a magical season for a child who is perhaps not expecting a visit from Santa this year, call Helping Hand at 830-796-8300.