Getting to observe and enjoy many forms of Christmas spirit
As I keep getting older, it seems the Christmas spirit keeps changing.
I still keep hearing about “Black Friday specials.” I even attended one, on Thanksgiving Day. It was pretty cold as I stood in line at 4 p.m. with my wife. She was trying to get a new addition to her electronic collection. The people in line were all friendly, even the mother whose baby was crying. The baby had beet-red ears, nose, cheeks and hands. After nearly an hour, someone came and took the baby with them to a heated car. Christmas spirit, maybe?
Then the doors opened at 5. Remember those friendly people in line? Guess what? They started a mad rush to get their Black Friday specials. Christmas spirit, maybe.
After my wife couldn’t find what she was looking for, we went to three other stores, hoping to find me shoes and underwear. She found shoes in the second store, and the underwear in the fourth. Then we went home and got an internet Thanksgiving card. Christmas spirit, maybe?
On Black Friday itself, we went to the tree lighting in Leonardtown. There was a large crowd of children, parents and grandparents. There was singing. At first I thought the singing was piped-in music. No, it was live — many different groups of all ages singing. Christmas spirit was starting to make me warm inside.
There was free hot chocolate, light sticks for the kids, cookies and much more. My friend had two young boys. They could not see the Christmas tree. So he asked me to lift up one of the boys. I have no grandchildren of my own, but this made me so happy that my wife had made me come to the tree lighting. Christmas spirit, maybe.
For nearly 20 years I have helped the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department with many of its activities. I had never gone to the lighting of their Christmas tree, but we went this year. When we got to the parking lot, there was a long line of people waiting to get into the social hall. We went around to the kitchen entrance.
I couldn’t believe what I saw. There were ladies dressed as elves, and lighted Christmas trees. There was a stack of about a thousand homemade cookies.
Inside, I thought I was at the North Pole. There were red and green tablecloths. There was a large Christmas tree with two large recliners near it. There was Christmas music, and a table with chairs so that children could write and mail a letter to Santa. There were tables selling raffle tickets for a bike or a large Christmas stocking.
Children were running and playing all over the room without fear — just happiness.
Around 5 p.m. people went outside to watch Santa light the tree. My wife stayed at the raffle tables, and I went to the play area to help.
Then it happened: Santa went by, led by many fire trucks. People yelled and clapped for him. As he went by, he waved at everyone.
Outside, the tree was lit, then Santa and Mrs. Claus came inside and sat in the recliners with the elves beside them. Children of all ages got to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.
Off from the kitchen, the other large room was filled with cookies, small juice containers and water for everyone.
Then, I did something I had never done before: I drew all the winning raffle tickets for the people. I felt that I touched every ticket. I had a hard time holding back my tears. I thought my heart was going to explode with happiness.
Christmas spirit, maybe?
Glenn Richards, Hollywood