- From the IGHS newsletter. Very fitting message for today the holiest of all
Dr. Dave's Notes:
As I was thinking about what to write about today, I recalled what I learned
about Christmas over fifty years ago from my father. He was a rural mail
carrier and his mail route took him into the hills where many people lived
in near poverty. I know because a few times when I was sick, I had to ride
with him on his mail route rather then staying home alone in our farmhouse.
I went to school in our two-room school with some of the kids that lived in
what most people would consider shacks. When I say rural mail carrier, I
mean that he drove about a hundred miles a day, all on the gravel country
roads. The houses were not close together, sometimes they were a half mile
apart from other homes. My father knew who lived at each of these places,
even the names of children who got letters from grandparents.
Back in those days, he sorted all of the mail for his route by hand. He knew
for example, a letter just addressed to Grandma, Deer Island, Oregon and had
a return address, then he could guess for whom the letter was meant because
he had sorted other mail from that return address in the past.
My father was the kind of man who if mail came in lacking sufficient
postage, he would deliver it and leave a note to leave the extra change in
the mailbox for him to pick up the next day. He paid the lacking postage
himself, out of his own pocket so the people would get their mail on time.
The people were poor, but honest. They would never think of stiffing my
father for a few cents postage due.
During the week of Christmas, we got all kinds of cookies and sweets because
the people on his mail route would leave these gifts in their mailboxes for
him. Every day he came home with surprises left by his mail customers. I
could not figure how why none of the cookies were of the hard variety, that
lasted a lot longer than the softer kind.
I clearly recall that one year, he dressed up as Santa, with his red Santa
suite, white beard, and red cap. He had a large red bag. I could not
understand why he had toys wrapped up and were putting them into this red
bag. I remember him saying that he was giving these toys away to those less
fortunate. Santa remembered us, but there were children who Santa would not
visit this year so he was helping out Santa.
I remember we all climbed into the car and drove to the first home where
children of a milk dairy farm lived. He had purchased toys and had wrapped
them and put the names of the children on each present. He walked up to the
door and knocked on it.
A child answered the door dressed in pants with holes in the knees. He stood
there with the door half way open and wide-eyed staring. His mother came to
the door and gasped. My father reached into his red bag and removed two
presents with the names of her boys on them. He handed the presents to the
boys and wished them a Merry Christmas, turned, and walked away. He hurried
back to the car and rush away before the people thought to look for the car
to see if they knew who it was that was their Santa.
My father was not a college graduate, may not even have been a high school
graduate, but he loved people and in his small way, he spread the message of
Christmas to many. He did not belong to any church and never attended church
services; he thought that we should be kind and considerate to everyone. He
told me once that religion does not make the man, but the man makes the
I never forgot those years when my father would don his red Santa suit and
deliver some moments of joy to children who's Christmas tree was bare of
gifts. I saw fathers and mothers weeping because someone thought enough of
them to bring joy into the lives of their children at this special time of
May you each sense that this holiday season is not about how far into debt
you had to go, but how much joy you brought to other people. The lessons we
learn in life are from watching the actions of others. What lessons are
other people learning from your actions?