A Holiday Story
I recently received this beautiful story entitled “A Christmas Coat” from Beliefnet, and I wanted to share it with you to celebrate the holidays.
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit Grandma on the day my brother dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," he jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Do not believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad! Now, put on your coat, and let us go."
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I had not even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kirby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me $10. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kirby's.
I was only eight years old. I had often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that $10 bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.
I was just about thought out when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker did not have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker did not have a cough; he did not have a good coat.
I fingered the $10 bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked warm, and he would like that.
"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my $10 down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I did not get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally, it did, and there stood Bobby. Fifty years have not dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes.
That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were — ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95. May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care.
And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus and always promote the spirit of philanthropy, which is the desire to promote the welfare of others.
I hope as nonprofit professionals, we maintain a piece of Christmas in our heart throughout the entire year. I also hope others, such as our parents, grandparents and friends, share the joy of giving and helping others with us. All of us should promote the spirit of giving in order to make this world a better place. May we always promote philanthropy and spread the joy that this concept evokes!
Happy Holidays, and I sincerely hope you create your own holiday story to be shared throughout future years with others, this year!
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.