While I cannot say that we were rich and always had huge piles of presents under the tree I can say we always had presents, a beautiful tree, and plenty to eat. I do remember my friends being able to rattle off a long list of gifts they received and that my list even with the socks and underwear thrown in was much shorter. I was only 3 1/2 when Santa brought me the rocking horse for Christmas and to be honest that memory is rather dim. It was a few Christmases later that the rocking horse was a centerpiece in a life long lesson.
It was several years later and hard times were all around us. A labor dispute had broken out at the foundry where my father worked. It had been going on for almost a year, and in fact, it would still be a while before it would be settled. Money was very tight, and Christmas was to be small for us and nonexistent for many. One man, my father, worked with had a large family and no real hope of giving them any Christmas. For several days my father took some of my old and now outgrown toys and cleaned and fixed them up as best he could. My rocking horse was among them.
Just a day or so before Christmas my father loaded our car with these now spruced up old toys. I can recall wanting to go with him the night he brought the toys over to his co-worker. He at first said no but I kept up the campaign to go and was finally given permission to go, with the strict orders that I was to stay in the car. When we got to the house, Dad quickly unloaded the car and put all of the items on the front porch. He then knocked at the door, and a man came out. A few words were exchanged a handshake and then we were driving away. Dad never spoke of this again. Some lessons just don’t need words the deed is all that is required. The lesson was clear to me even at that young age. If you can help, then you help. You don’t draw attention to yourself and at all times respect the other person’s dignity. My Dad could not have known it then, and it took me a while to realize it, but that night I was given perhaps the best Christmas gift any young boy could have hoped for.