Saturday, December 17, 2011

Secret Santa Surprise

"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness."
~Bob Hope

In the late 1980’s I was working in our local grocery store/trading post at Christmas. My father was the manager of the store and my mother worked there as well. Each year at Christmas, the store distributers held giveaways. I am sure you have seen them at the end of the aisles and perhaps put your name in at a chance to win. The gifts were always very nice. For each of the gifts given away, my father, the manager would also receive that gift. Over the years we had been blessed with Mountain Bikes, Telephones, Radios, Coolers etc. This one particular year I received the best gift that I could imagine, starting a legacy I continue to this day.

We had a regular customer at the grocery store who was one of the sweetest women I had ever met. She had three young children to take care of and…she was also crippled. She was the type of person that always had a smile in her heart and a sweet disposition. I never heard her complain…ever.

Three days before Christmas she arrived at the grocery store to do her Christmas grocery shopping. The “Secret Santa” team was ready. One person kept an eye on her shopping and the rest of us went to work. While she was pushing her cart around, the “team” was sneaking through the back door out to her small station wagon. We had a duplicate of every giveaway. We ran as fast as we could and opened her car door and literally filled her car with gifts! There was a HUGE Christmas Stocking full of toys, a large stuffed Polar Bear, a Toy Truck, Electric Train, Radio, wrapping paper and many more gifts. The entire time we were smiling and laughing. We never got to see the look on her face or hear her response when she opened the car door. The gift we received was in the giving.

Do I remember what I got for Christmas that year? Absolutely not. But…I will forever remember that feeling of helping someone else out. What is ironic about the situation is that my family was struggling as well. The beauty of it is that we didn’t even recognize that fact. We were so excited to be helping someone else out!

Each Christmas Season Secret Santa still makes an appearance. Some years “Santa” has less to give but always is able to see someone less fortunate and make a difference. You see, Christmas is about love. It could be something very small, a thoughtful card, a lottery ticket or helping someone with their groceries. It has nothing to do with accolades or thanks. The best part of being a “Secret Santa” to me is the feeling I get in my heart.

~Heidi Martin St. Jean

Thank you to my parents, Bill & Emily Martin for showing me what Christmas is really about.

“What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a
little bit more.
~Dr. Seuss

Saturday, December 3, 2011


It isn't the flowing ribbons,
draped and curled with extra care,
or the fine and fancy bows
tied with ornamental flair.

It isn't the label on the box,
the sum of money spent,
or anything that shows the length
to which you obviously went.

The beauty of a Christmas gift
cannot be seen at all.
For the loveliness of giving
is a feeling, grand and tall.

It's the genuine offer of love,
the yearning to make a connection,
a show of honest gratitude,
a display of sincere affection.

~Author Unknown

Thursday, December 1, 2011


"Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts." ~Janice Maeditere

I was a single parent of four small children, working at a minimum-wage job. Money was always tight, but we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs and, if not a lot, always enough. My kids told me that in those days they didn't know we were poor. They just thought Mom was cheap. I've always been glad about that.

It was Christmas time, and although there wasn't money for a lot of gifts, we planned to celebrate with church and family, parties and friends, drives downtown to see the Christmas lights, special dinners, and by decorating our home.

But the big excitement for the kids was the fun of Christmas shopping at the mall. They talked and planned for weeks ahead of time, asking each other and their grandparents what they wanted for Christmas. I dreaded it. I had saved $120 for presents to be shared by all five of us.

The big day arrived and we started out early. I gave each of the four kids a twenty dollar bill and reminded them to look for gifts about four dollars each. Then everyone scattered. We had two hours to shop; then we would meet back at the "Santa's workshop" display.

Back in the car driving home, everyone was in high Christmas spirits, laughing and teasing each other with hints and clues about what they had bought. My younger daughter, Ginger, who was about eight years old, was unusually quiet. I noted she had only one small, flat bag with her after her shopping spree. I could see enough through the plastic bag to tell that she had bought candy bars - fifty-cent candy bars! I was so angry. What did you do with that twenty dollar bill I gave you? I wanted to yell at her, but I didn't say anything until we got home. I called her into my bedroom and closed the door, ready to be angry again when I asked her what she had done with the money. This is what she told me:

"I was looking around, thinking of what to buy, and I stopped to read the little cards on one of the Salvation Army's 'Giving Trees.' One of the cards was for a little girl four years old, and all she wanted for Christmas was a doll with clothes and a hairbrush. So I took the card off the tree and bought the doll and the hairbrush for her and took it to the Salvation Army booth.

"I only had enough money left to buy candy bars for us," Ginger continued. "But we have so much and she doesn't have anything."

I never felt so rich as I did that day.

By Kathleen Dixon