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.