There’s something about Christmas that makes us reminisce. Maybe it’s the fond memories we have of waking at three in the morning and running to the tree to discover a new bike. Or maybe we recall seeing fresh footprints in the snow outside the living room window on Christmas morning.
One event from my past that still rings clear to me today is from my junior year in high school. I had a friend whom I will call “Cathy” (not her real name). Cathy was a year older than me and was in the senior class. She was also from a family much more poor than my own, which was pretty poor, since my family itself was at poverty level.
It was a few days before Christmas break and Cathy and I were sitting in the cafeteria having lunch. The conversation turned towards Christmas.
“So, what do you think you’re getting?” I asked Cathy, knowing she probably wasn’t going to be getting much.
“Well, I did ask my folks for some oil paints and new brushes.”
Cathy was an untrained artist. She had never had an art lesson in her life, yet she could draw just about anything freehand.
The next thing I knew I was asking her about her four brothers and what she thought they may get for Christmas. I made a mental note of everything she told me and jotted it down in my notebook.
When I got home from school that day I was telling my mother about the conversation I had with Cathy and how I felt bad that she and her brothers probably wouldn’t be getting much.
“I’d like to do something for her,” I told my mother.
So off we went to Ames (which was my favorite department store at the time–this was LONG before my area had Walmarts!). It’s funny because all I can remember purchasing is a bottle of Charlie perfume for Cathy’s mother and some paint brushes for Cathy. I know we got Cathy’s father and brothers items also but I cannot recall what they were.
Then we set our plan in motion. All the gifts were wrapped and put into trash bags and decorated the bags with bows. We threw in some unopened boxes of Kix cereal which we had coming out of our ears, since my mother was a WIC recipient and that was the one cereal WIC recipients were able to get.
My step-father drove me out to Cathy’s house and parked about 1000 feet away from her house. I lugged the two trash bags up Cathy’s icy driveway. A dog barked in the distance. Or maybe it was Roman, their black lab. I reached the side door of their house and the outside light popped on. My heart raced as I dropped the bags and booked it out of there, somehow managing to not fall on my ass.
On Christmas morning I got a call from Cathy. This was not unusual, as we chatted just about every day on the phone.
“Guess what Santa brought?” she said excitedly.
I smiled. “What?”
She then started to laugh. “Last night I was sitting in my room when all of a sudden Roman started barking his head off. I looked out the window and saw the light was on near the side door. So I went to investigate. And there were these two trash bags. So I yelled up the stairs ‘Okay, who’s the goober who forgot to go to the dump’? And then I saw the bows on the trash bags.”
Thank God for the bows!
Cathy then proceeded to tell me about all the gifts that were in the bags. She then started to cry when she mentioned getting her oil paints and brushes.
“We think it was a good Samaritan from our church,” Cathy said, in trying to guess who the do-gooder was.
“Maybe you’re just not meant to know, Cathy,” I replied.
That June Cathy graduated leaving me behind for one more year of high school. She went on to attend college at BYU. We kept in touch for several years but when I graduated and began working and going to college, we eventually lost touch.
But every Christmas I always think of Cathy, the friendship we had and the joy my family and I brought to her and her family one Christmas.