Christmas 1954

Part one of two: Republished from ‘Just A Moment’


I was a high school student selling Christmas items door to door that senior year.  I was unprepared for what I saw when the door was opened. A one room house, filled with the smell of smoke from the open bucket of burning coals. Around the wall were six small children, dirty, poorly dressed and fed, eating bread dipped in syrup, using the tops of the syrup cans for plates?


I spoke to the lady, started to mention what I was selling, but paused long enough to catch a glimpse of the despair, poverty, and hopelessness of the moment.  I told her I was with Santa and wished to know what she needed for Christmas. She looked at my young white face in a tone of shock and uncertainty.  I said, “I really am, I would really like to know what you need for Christmas.” That was the start of one of the best Christ Seasons I shall ever know.


I entered the house with caution and some reservation. The children looked at me with wide eyes of wonder.  A small one came and hugged my leg.  I was surprised and a bit shaken. Remember this was West Tennessee in the fifties.  It was a different world, (wrong), but different. I am sometimes surprised that God did not remove all of us for our actions and attitudes. That is a message for another day. God is merciful even when we are not.


The mother said they did not have anything in the house to eat and very little coal left. Since I was 16, I was more interested in why there was no tree and no Christmas decorations. Time would answer that question. I said I knew where to get food and I thought I could get some coal.


I raided our home at 246 South Lindsey Street for food, got coal from the place where my father worked and headed back to the, smoke and children filled one room of a house. This was going to be a different Christmas!

         We will finish our story tomorrow.



Published in: on December 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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