Gordon: Christmas, truly is a different day filled with stories and gifts

Dec. 23, 2012 @ 10:15 AM


Christmas should truly be a different day.

I suppose I want Christmas to be celebrated in such a way that, decades from now, our Christmas stories will touch the lives of people who remember them and bring fond memories that will last a lifetime.

I remember the stories my parents told me about Christmas at their respective houses as children. Both from large families — my mother's family had seven, she was the oldest; daddy's family had 11 children, he was fourth or fifth from the top.

It was certainly very different at their homes in the 1940s.

When my mother was a little girl, a real live Santa Claus came to her house at Christmas.

She said the man, Dumont Clarke, traveled throughout the western part of the state in December, delivering Christmas gifts for the children he had met during his travels earlier in the year.

Clarke, from the Presbyterian Church in Asheville, became acquainted with area folks through the Lord's Acre program.

In the early 1940s, when money was very scarce, church members who could not make monetary gifts were asked to donate one-tenth of their farm land, and the crops yielded from the acre. Most of the farm land yielded cotton.

My grandpa was pastoring a small church at the time. Although he did receive a meager salary from it, he encouraged members who couldn't give money to join the Lord's Acre plan. Members donated crops to the church. After the acre of cotton was sold, the money was sent to the respective churches.

Clarke was one of the early workers in the Lord's Acre plan and among his roles was meeting children whose parents had very little income.

Clarke visited those children, like my mother and her siblings, at Christmas.

My mother told me about the year Clarke arrived in their driveway with toys in the truck of his car.

As the oldest, she helped select toys for her younger siblings. She selected baby dolls for her sisters and small trucks and cars for the boys.

At age 15, mother got a job in Rose's in downtown Foret City. When Clarke came to her house for his annual December visit that year, mother informed him that she had gotten a job.

With part of her money, she would be able to buy Christmas for her younger siblings, she told Clarke. She asked him to adopt another family in exchange. He did as she asked.

My mother said she never forgot Mr. Clarke and his giving spirit.

Her own giving spirit was reflected throughout her life. Mr. Clarke had made quite an impresseion on her, this Santa Claus coming downs from the hills of western North Carolina to her home in the Shiloh community.

My daddy told me that each Christmas all 11 children in his family set small cardboard boxes in the living room of their house for Santa to see. Each child's name was written on the boxes.

On Christmas morning, when the children awoke, they rushed to see what was in the boxes.

Even during the Great Depression, daddy said there was always something in the boxes. Most times there was one piece of stick candy, an orange or sometimes toys.

Once there was marbles for the boys. My daddy said he treasured the marbles for many years. He actually always kept marbles around the house.

Christmas was unlike any other day of the year for both my parents.

My mother's heart was stirred because a man named Dumont Clarke made sure boys and girls got something for Christmas. My daddy's household was made happier on Christmas morning, because parents who delivered oranges, stick candy and marbles, made the day very special.

Is Christmas any more special than others? Absolutely.

It's the time when our hearts are tender as we remember others and most of all we remember the greatest gift ever given — Jesus —who was and is the Savior of the world.

Christmas is when we celebrate the greatest story ever told, the greatest story ever written; and hopefully we respond accordingly to the stories we've been told and the gifts given.

Merry Christmas.