Spirits uplifted by orphans
It was Christmas 1955. I was a young sailor stationed aboard the Navy destroyer USS Cassin Young DD793. We were in the Boston Naval Shipyard for repairs.
Christmas morning I heard an announcement that we would be entertaining a group of 9- to 10-year old boys from a Boston orphanage. I was away from home on Christmas, feeling sorry for myself, and no way did I want to spend the day with a bunch of orphans.
Then I heard a lot of noise topside and it was these kids, running up and down on the deck, climbing on the guns, laughing and just having the time of their lives. I just had to join up. Each member of the crew was assigned a buddy who went through the chow line with us, shared a movie, took a lot of pictures and then we had to bid them goodbye.
Now these youngsters must be in their late 60s, and every Christmas I think about them. It was by far my most unforgettable Christmas.
Helping a neighbor in need
I have many memories of Christmas in my 90 years, but one stands out.
It was a cold, snowy day in 1935 when Mother, who always seemed to be looking out for others, asked me if I would take our old neighbor and her disabled son a basket of food. These were the days before Social Security, food stamps and welfare, so our neighbors were in great need. I agreed to deliver the gift.
The basket was loaded with cake, ham, a quart of custard, a jar of strawberry preserves and other goodies, including Mother's famous homemade salt-rising bread. It was so heavy that I had to put it down and rest a couple of times during my journey.
I did not really mind walking over the snowy hill to Miss Patsy Ann's home, even though I was a bit leery. She was greatly wrinkled, thin and angular, and reminded me of what I thought the crones of fairy tales might look like.
However, she and her son were happy to see me and the basket of food. I made my delivery and did not tarry too long. I lost no time hurrying back up the cow path to our warm home.
I love to reminisce about the wonderful Christmas seasons in the late 1930s. Our one-room schoolhouse in Owsley County had one teacher for first through eighth grades.
The pot-bellied stove in the center of the room provided the heat to keep us warm. Every year we had a Christmas program for all the community to enjoy. We practiced it for several weeks prior to the big event.
Two boys were assigned to find a large cedar tree, cut it down and place it on the stage. Teacher and students used decorations of red, green, gold and silver. Pretty bells of green and red hung from the ceiling. The six windows were covered with dark green shades, and candles were used for soft, warm light.
The younger boys and girls recited poems about Santa Class and the older ones sang beautiful Christmas carols. We exchanged gifts and also received a nice gift from the church. We sincerely appreciated our very merry Christmas.
Alma Luciene Moore Duff
True Christmas gifts
Christmas is the most wonderful day of the year because it celebrates the birth of our savior Jesus Christ, but some of us think of it as a time to receive gifts. Do you have a home, clothes to wear, food to eat, a job and family and friends who love you? If yes, then you are enjoying the most precious gifts that anyone could ask for, so what else would anyone need if they have all those things?
I'd say they're a very lucky person and should be very thankful and praise God because there are people out there who wish they had what you have already got. So this year let's not worry about getting a gift, but let's give to those who are less fortunate and maybe they will have a little better Christmas.
Good Samaritans, good cheer
A couple of weeks ago, about 2 p.m., I did what a tired 91-year-old woman can do too easily: locked myself out of my car in a city parking lot. It was warmish, and I had left the windows of the car slightly open. The store I had just shopped at was too busy to help me, but I noticed a fast-food restaurant nearby and explained my predicament to two sympathetic waitresses.
They went to consult with their manager. Back again the cute little blonde one said, "The manager will be here in a minute, but my fiancé works on the other side of the mall. If he can get off for five minutes he could drive over here; he is so good at fixing things." They sat me down and brought me a glass of water.
At that moment the young manager came out carrying a discarded implement that he said had been used to take French fries out of the cooker. "You may not want this near your car but it could work." Several of us trooped out to the car, and just as the waitress' fiancé arrived, the manager unlocked my car.
What a relief. I burst out: "What good young Samaritans you all are." I felt I had found my world family — instant love and joy all round.
I purchased my Nativity 44 years ago at a local floral shop and paid $25 for it. It includes a music box that plays Silent Night. I place it on the mantel each year and enjoy it for the Christmas season. I am so glad that, though I bought it, the meaning never changes.
Cherished sounds of season
When I was 6 months old, my grandmother sent me a music box, not just an ordinary music box, but one that is unique and very special. The music box is round, 12 to 14 inches in diameter, with an opening in the center to receive a cup into which the Christmas tree is placed. When all is assembled, the tree turns as the music box plays two tunes, Silent Night and God Loves Me Dearly.
The rotation of the tree works via a spring mechanism. Two brass bands on the bottom of the cup interface with brass bands inside the music box so that the strands of lights do not get tangled as the tree turns. Except for two years when I was in the military in Germany, this music box has been a part of our Christmas for 80 years.