Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Guest Post

December 16, 2012

a very romantic christmas week


The holidays conjure up images of evergreens bedecked with lights and color, bright poinsettias on the table, candles in the window, and gathering together with joy on cold December days. No matter how our traditions and beliefs differ, the holidays are a time when we come together in celebration. Whether we keep Christmas, mark the winter solstice, light the Hanukkah candles, or celebrate Kwanza it’s a season for joy, for memories, and for sharing. Hope resonates this time of year and the spirit of generosity thrives.
As a journalist, I’ve written many Christmas columns and tales. When I worked in broadcasting, we devoted the last few days before Christmas to what the station manager called a Sound Spectacular featuring some of the world’s most beautiful and classic holiday music. As an author, I’ve written two tales with a Christmas theme and have no doubt another will make the pair a trio by next December. I’ve shared my own memories many times in many different venues but one of the experiences I hold most dear is now a tradition in the small community where I live.
Twenty odd years ago, I worked at the local radio station. One December evening, we aired a news story that the scheduled commodity distribution had been cancelled. Families counting on something extra just before the holiday would be shorted what they’d hoped to gain. As I left work, I reflected what a bummer it would be but when I returned to work the next morning, my boss, the late Ann Winegardner, had evolved a plan.
Ann was the station manager’s wife and co-manager. She served for years as a social worker before making the leap into radio. We hailed from the same region, distant from where we now lived and had found some common bonds. We were both aspiring writers at the time and she determined no one in the community would go hungry that Christmas. She came up with a plan for what she called a food basket brigade and went on the air seeking food and monetary donations. Within hours, the donations poured into the station faster than we could keep up. I struggled to sort and catalogue the items arriving from all across our corner of Missouri. Large companies donated turkeys and hams by the dozens. Humble people brought what they could and the stacks of food filled up the offices, spilled over into the studios. By the time distribution day arrived we had more than enough food to fill the shortage.
And it became a tradition. This year the annual Food Basket Brigade will provide food to over one thousand families. Each family receives food for a traditional holiday dinner and other items to spread over two weeks. Although Ann passed away several years ago, the event she began out of a love for others continues and I hope it always will. Nothing demonstrates the true spirit of Christmas more than the annual Food Basket Brigade.
The spirit of Christmas also lives in my two holiday eBooks available at all major online retailers. This year’s offering, a holiday short, Home Fires of Christmas, deals with the lonely wife of a rock star who isn’t sure her husband will even make it home for the holiday. My 2011 work, Sing We Now of Christmas, is a story of love and one woman’s hope in the face of hopelessness. Sing We Now of Christmas chronicles one year in Jessica’s life. Readers have described it as poignant, uplifting, and a true Christmas tale. You’ll find both at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, All Romance Ebooks, and at Bookstrand.com.


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  • Josie Hink December 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    What a beautiful gift you all gave to those wonderful people and that the tradition stays on after so many years and helps so many families makes heart smile.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  • Cindy Barton December 16, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I think you all have done a wonderful thing. In the past, I have been able to contribute to these type of things and it really made me feel good. This year, unfortunately, I can’t, it would be taking from my family because it has been a rough year. I hope to be back on track for the next Christmas.

  • Jeanne Miro December 16, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Hi Nat and Lee!

    What a wonderful reminder to all of us about how we can all reach out and help others during the holiday season.

    It remind us all that even if there is no local community event planned to help others in need we can also all do our small part to make the holidays a time to help others.

    Even if we can’t donate financially we can always reach out and help others by a simple act of kindness by helping out by shoveling a neighbors sidewalks after a snow storm or helping a singe Mom by offering to babysit.

    There are so many ways of helping and all you need to do is look around your neighborhood and help to fill that need. Many things that we can all do don’t necessarily cost anything but but can make someone else’s holiday one they will always remember.

  • Jenny December 16, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    That is a truly wonderful tradition! It’s so important to give when we can.

  • Allyson Brann December 16, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    That is truly a wonderful, heartwarming story! People like her are truly angels on earth and how wonderful for you to help and be a part of such a great thing! Merry Christmas!

  • May December 16, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    What a great story! Reminds us that christmas isn’t just about gifts and other greeds…

  • bn100 December 17, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    What a great tradition to continue.

  • miki December 17, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    it’s really a great tradition, we have some similar here but i love how your started and the fact you continue even know

  • June M. December 18, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    This is a great tradition that has helped so many people. It is a great way to help others and show that Christmas is about people and not objects.

  • Shannon G. December 19, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us and giving us all a gentle reminder that there is always a little something we can do for others.

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