We’re blogging Christmas stories. If you enjoyed today’s post, you can read others at www.creekbank.net. Yesterday’s post, “Medic”, is a reader favorite and tomorrow’s, “The Hardest Day of the Year” is especially poignant for those who’ve lost a loved one.
The Warm Glow of Giving
It’s the kind of December day Louisiana is famous for: cold and foggy, with a thick humidity that chills you to the bottom of your toes.
I feel kind of like the weather. I didn’t sleep well last night and my personal battery needs recharging. Parking my truck outside the Hope Center, I wipe my boots on the back porch mat before fumbling with a balky doorknob. It finally relents to my twisting and I step inside a large meeting room.
This room, which doubles as a bluegrass music stage, is crammed with people. They’re manning an assembly line that would make Henry Ford proud. They’re not connecting car parts—they’re putting food into large cardboard boxes.
These senior adults are the Third Tuesday Food Box Crew at The Hope Center. They’re busy putting bags of kidney beans, rice, and other foodstuffs into the box. The room is abuzz with laughter and talking. It reminds me of movie scenes from Santa’s North Pole workshop the week before Christmas.
Maybe it’s due to the cold dampness outside, but there is a warm glow and energy pulsating in the room. The room is filled with light, and it’s not the type given off by fluorescent bulbs.
I realize it’s the warm glow of giving: of folks who’ve learned that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. They’re filling boxes of food for needy folks—boxes that will make a difference in how happy a Christmas some “shut-ins” and families will have.
The brightest glow in the room comes from Mancel and June Reeves.
Mancel isn’t able to work today. Vertigo keeps him from standing without “getting sick-dizzy.” In spite of this, he still has that glow.
His glow comes from the inside. It’s a joy I notice in the faces of committed followers of Jesus. The glow is intensified by the joy of giving that fills this building on US Highway 190 near Ragley, Louisiana.
His wife, June, scurries about the room instructing everyone and keeping the assembly line going. I catch up with her near the walk-in freezer. She has that same glow on her face. It’s the glow of giving.
Giving, it’s just what Christmas is about. June and Mancel are at the age where folks are supposed to sit in a rocker and while away the hours. They’re as busy serving others as they’ve ever been.
I walk up and down the assembly line visiting with many friends. As country people do, they pick at me, “Well, look who shows up when the work’s all done” and “I’d sure like to be a writer where I just come and go whenever I please.”
It’s all in fun and I laugh with them. I am slightly jealous of them as they work in the happy camaraderie of people getting “outside themselves.”
But I’ve been working too. I’ve brought my own gift. I hand a stack of papers to June Reeves. She’d asked me to write a Christmas story for placement in each box. I’ve also brought a box of books. One of my books will go in each box. I’m reminder that my hands and hearts are also part of this assembly line—just in a different way.
I ease to the door. I’m speaking to a high school class in DeRidder and need to get going. The Food Box Crew wishes me a Merry Christmas.
It’s still cold outside, but it seems as if the dampness doesn’t soak into my bones as before.
That room at The Hope Center has warmed me.
A room full of the warm glow of giving.
Fruit Salad –
10 oz cool whip
3 oz cream cheese
10 oz strawberries, partially drained
Fruit cocktail, drain
16 oz mandarin oranges
10 oz bag little marshmallows
Mix them together and chill.
No teacher taught more East Beauregard students than Glenda Hagan. During an illustrious career of nearly forty years, Glenda guided young people in reading, writing, diagramming sentences, and the love of English.
She also boosted morale at our school with a combination of great food and fun practical jokes. (Who can forget her famous Christmas Ex-Lax brownies shared with several coaches as repayment on a previous prank? She also sent fellow teacher Agnes Young a jar of hand lotion that was actually Elmer’s glue.)
She could not only dish it out (no pun intended) but take it as well.
She was the butt of my favorite all-time April Fool’s Joke. I had my co-conspirators, school secretaries Bonnie and Carolyn, call her to the office with this note:
Mrs. Hagan, please call Mr. Fox at 318 441-6810.
Bonnie shrugged. “He asked you to call him today if possible.”
I was hiding behind the door.
“This is Glenda Hagan. I have a call from Mr. Fox.”
Her shriek was ample evidence of what she’d heard on the other line.
“Ma’am, this is the Alexandria Zoo. It’s April Fool’s Day. You’ve been had.”
Glenda shouted. “Where is Curt Iles? I’m going to kill him.”
I recommend Glenda’s Fruit Salad recipe.
But be careful with her chocolate brownies. They’re unforgettable.