George Worthy
George Worthy

I have written before about why I believe in Santa Claus. Perhaps more than you want to read, but there are many reasons I love this time of the year. The whole idea that we greet each other with a smile, even if it’s just someone you see in the supermarket. It’s not just the idea that we give each other gifts to celebrate the birth of Our Savior. The idea of a special day to love your neighbor, strangers or someone you have lost touch with, because it is one day of the year when you can be nice to someone without needing a reason.

I know that I have told you about the time that my dad did something completely different that left his younger children in awe of his ability to say a prayer. In case you have already read about how and why I personally love the idea of Christmas, I should probably write a little about the miracle that occurred and why I unabashedly bend my knee on this special day. Ah, but that might be considered cheating.

If you don’t know about how wonderful and special a day it is when you end up at the end of that day with a bicycle, particularly when you are old enough to know those times were tough around our house. I didn’t ask for anything from Santa for that Christmas holiday. I was old enough to know that my little brother was getting a bike and that I could ride it if he was in a good mood.

First it would have been silly for me to ask for a bike when my parents had sat me down and explained why there might be only one bike for all four of us brothers. Let me tell you that getting a new bike only happened about two times in all the time I lived at home. It primed me for my adulthood when I bought bikes for all the kids that I knew who would be lucky to receive a new pair of jeans. 

Jeans were the usual gift from Santa in my house. They were only given two times during the year and you did not wash them for at least a couple of months so they would stay dark blue. It was the poor kids who showed up at school the day after the holiday with the washed out blue that jeans become after washing over and over again.

It’s pretty silly of me to write about poor kids and faded jeans. I can remember wearing my jeans as I sat down in the bath tub. My thoughts told me if I didn’t use soap they wouldn’t fade. Ah, to be an adult and remember how dumb you truly were.

Today you can sit in front of an iPad and order all the jeans you want, but for some reason it was so much more important if you and your mom or dad went over to Bakersfield and tried on the clothing that you were to get from Santa.

I still have, in a box somewhere, the leather jacket that my folks got for me for Christmas. My folks didn’t mind me getting a jacket that was worn by only the rich kids in Wasco. We went over to JCPenney’s and I got the last leather jacket that they had in stock. It was a perfect fit and I was floating along thinking how cool I was going to be when I showed up after Christmas with that leather jacket.

While I was standing there with that jacket on and looking, like I was the king of the world, another customer spoke up to my dad and said he would give him $20 more if he would let him have that jacket for his kids. My Pop was sitting there and thinking about an extra $20 and what that would mean for Christmas when he looked over at me and saw the tears welling up in my eyes. He sort of smiled and told the guy that he couldn’t do that.

I’ll never forget that look on his face, and although most kids of my age at the time were perhaps a little better off than my family, there was no kid, no matter how much money their family had, that loved their dad more than me.

The first couple of years that Lorraine and I lived in Gonzales we would query the folks that we knew and ask if there was a family that we might help. We would be given the address and age of the children who could use a little help during the Christmas season. Armed with that information we would spend a day up in Salinas buying dolls and jeans or whatever was suggested and deliver those items to the family.

Time has gone by and we had children of our own and all the little things like school clothes, high school and college have changed how we share our blessings with our community. I can only pray that not many kids have their stockings empty this year. I can remember how it felt to be the kid in school with holes in their PF Flyers. I was always able to explain those clothes by telling all the kids that I thought would care that they were my brothers cast off clothes but it was always a difficult thing to do.

I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas. I pray also for the families that need some extra help to make their children happy. It’s not about the gifts that one gets during this season of love, it is the love that each member of the family has for one another.

My daughter has her own family now and my boys have relationships that they are working on, but I’ll bet they know what this season is all about. Their mother and I have worked on this every day of their life and they always make me so proud when they tell their mother and I what they did to make some young child know the joy I lived that Christmas when my family came from church and there was a brand new bike under the tree.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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