The Christmas season is officially upon us. Retail establishments are buzzing with people finding the perfect – and last minute – gifts for the special ones in their lives, Christmas carols can be heard on the airwaves and Santa’s elves are busy wrapping presents in preparation for the big trip on December 24. As the song goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Thinking back to when I was a kid, Christmas was a HUGE deal. The season would kick off with the purchase of a new “Christmas dress” – usually red – and new black patent leather shoes to wear to church and to Aunt Ann’s Christmas Eve party. The party also meant my great Aunt Irma was in town from Chicago. She was like a movie star with her hair-dos, stylish clothes – fashion not common to Wheeling. I always looked forward to Aunt Irma’s visits which were synonymous with the holiday season.
And then there were the trips to Cooey-Bentz Furniture to see Santa and to Downtown Wheeling to go Christmas shopping. I vividly remember the twinkling lights that decorated the Market Street side of the then Stone & Thomas building. Of course we couldn’t go to “town” and not stop by L.S. Good & Co. to chat with the talking Christmas tree.
The days leading up to Christmas would be full of anticipation because I knew the gifts under the tree would be much desired toys – a Barbie or baby doll that I’d been wanting for a long time and all of the “to-go-withs” – undies and socks never quite made Santa’s list as they were considered necessities. Some of my favorite childhood Christmas presents I remember receiving include Baby Alive, a doll that ate, drank, peed and…well, you get the picture; Barbie’s swimming pool and townhouse with the elevator; and Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow. (How I went from wanting anything Barbie to a plastic cow that could be “milked,” I’m not sure.) Once I was a little older and realized Santa didn’t bring all of the gifts, I would touch and shake the wrapped boxes under the tree in an attempt to figure out what was in them and, much to the dismay of my parents, sometimes I was successful.
As an adult, I still get excited about Christmas and yes, I’m still touching and shaking the presents under the tree. I’ve come to realize, though, that there is much more satisfaction in giving than receiving. As I reflect on my childhood and how fortunate I was growing up, it makes me sad to think there are children who, on Christmas morning, won’t have the same experience that I did. In an attempt to make a little bit of a difference, every year I choose a program through one of the local charitable organizations who assist families facing challenges during the holiday season. I am blessed and very thankful that I am able to do so. This year, I purchased clothing and toys for Robinson Auto Group’s Stuff the Truck promotion that benefitted the Wheeling YMCA and Youth Services System. I had so much fun shopping for the kids and knowing that a youngster may have a better Christmas morning because of it makes it all worth it.
Even though Christmas is just a few days away, I encourage you to help the less fortunate if you can through numerous organizations like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army to name a few. It’s never too late. You may help to make a special memory for a young guy or gal who may otherwise have not had a Christmas.