A Little Christmas Story


2001, 2002, 2003 Kelvin P. Ringold A Work in Progress

December 21, 2003

Good day !

It's been a while -- that's starting to be my mantra -- since my last Ramblings. Several people have written me to say "What's up?!" so I thought I'd send out a little year end wrap-up and hopefully in 2004 we'll be on a better schedule.

First of all, Merry Christmas! In our modern day, multi-cultural society, you hardly *ever* hear "Merry Christmas", anymore. It's become politically correct, it seems, to say "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas, because. . . well. . . there's so MANY holidays and occasions around this time of year that it's just easier not to offend anyone, by wishing them the wrong holiday, I guess. But. . . just so you know, Kelvin P. Ringold, Sr. celebrates Christmas! If you don't celebrate Christmas, then that's fine too. I mean no disrespect to your special day, but mine. . is Christmas. And if you don't like Christmas, then... I wish you happy "Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards All Men (mankind) . . ." and everyone should be able to get behind *that* one. Regardless, may the JOYs of the season fill your hearts and your minds and make your lives better.

I have a little Christmas story for you.

It's Christmas Eve. . . 1976. I was in the US Air Force, stationed in Hampton, Virginia. My wife and children -- the youngest of which is just over two months old at the time (that's Kelvin Jr, who is in Iraq this Christmas) -- are staying at her mom's house some 4 hours or so away for Christmas, in our home town of Salisbury, Maryland.  I can't be with them because I'm on stand-by at the air base, and have to be there within 30 minutes if there's a problem.   (nothing good like combat... just communications equipment outages...) So, instead of being with my family, I and my pager were spending time with some friends -- Russ and Carol, as I recall -- who lived just outside the base.

Of humble means, for the most part, these friends gathered together for a little Christmas Eve gift exchange.

    I know what I was accustomed to, back then -- Christmas had always been a big deal for us. When I was a child, my family was fairly poor, but you would never have known it on Christmas morning. By the gifts that Santa brought, you'd have thought we were the children of royalty, or so we felt.  And that carried on into my adult life, probably with some modification, because it remained a big deal to give lots of gifts, and if we had to owe on them till darned near next Christmas, that was okay, but we made it good... I don't think that was how my father did it originally; I just remembered our Christmases were plentiful.

So there I was with my friends, sitting quietly when the gifts started coming out. One exhorbitant gift I remembered was a little vase of dried flowers... miniature; wrapped painstakingly like it was a precious diamond. The recipient opened the gift and looked at the offering, a cost of probably... $1.50...tops.... and such a GLOW came over their face. They held it up like a bar of gold, and pranced, and smiled... and thanked the giver profusely.

The second gift came out... a long, flat, package; about 3/4 inch think... 12 or so inches wide, and nearly two feet long... that turned out to be a set of 4 place mats -- cheap, plastic ones... must of been $3 or $4 at the time. The receiver's name was Cathy -- and the place mats had a picture of the cartoon turtle named Cathy -- which was significant because Cathy talked very slow and methodically, and the turtle was symbolic -- and the mats read "Cathy's Place. . ."and Cathy must have raved about those mats for 15 minutes. . . And so it went for the longest time, and the biggest gifts that were given was an expensive bottle of wine that this one Colonel's son gave the group. I'm not sure how he became friends with this group of folks but they had all pooled *their* money -- from about 7 or 8 people -- and bought the Colonel's son a Mr. Coffee coffee brewer -- one of the nice ones, which back then was probably. . . $25.00 total. Nice pot, in 1976... and the Colonel's son was so grateful and so humbled and hugged everyone for thinking so much of him that they would do this awesome thing for him. . . and go to that expense. . . and he poured wine in each of their glasses, and they toasted each other and sang songs and were happy together . . . and I sat in total amazement.

    Such modest gifts. . . such awesome, geniune appreciation, and love, and gratitude, and friendship. . .just for being thought of.
Each year since 1976, I remember that Christmas Eve; and I usually find a special person to tell about that night . . . and each time I tell the story, I cry. . . just a little.  Because never before -- and never since -- have I shared a more meaningful Christmas Eve.  And, never since have I witnessed such genuine, heart felt joy over receiving a gift that probably cost less than a dollar. . .

So, when you're opening your Christmas gifts on Thursday, and you get something that's a little cheaper, or a little less grand than you thought you should be getting. . . remember the meaning of the giving, and remember the meaning of the receiving, and remember this little story.

I haven't seen any of those people since I left Virginia in 1976, but I spend Christmas Eve with them every year in my heart.  Come join us.

Have a great Christmas -- and an awesome New Year; and I hope to entertain you in 2004.