By Jeff Anderson
This is the ninth of 10 winners in the Deseret News annual Christmas writing contest, “Christmas I Remember Best.”
It was a great Christmas Day. Snow on the roads and very quiet as I walked the long walk to Mike’s house. It seemed like forever as I was so excited to show Mike my loot.
I finally arrived and Mike’s little sister opened the door. I walked in and the whole family was excited to see me.
As I looked around, the picture still sits in my mind of how different Mike’s house was that morning from mine. There was no big Christmas breakfast. There was no wrapping paper spread around the house. There was the saddest looking Christmas tree I ever did see — maybe 10 ornaments and one strand of tinsel that went around the tree from top to bottom, leaving huge gaps with nothing.
It all did not seem to register until I asked Mike what he got for Christmas. Mike showed me the one forgettable gift he had gotten from Santa. I suddenly felt incredibly silly. I had brought both pockets full of stuff I had received, not to mention all the great stuff I had at home.
We played for an hour or so and I wished them a Merry Christmas and walked home. I could not believe how Santa had forgotten Mike’s family. I got home and my mom asked me how Mike’s Christmas was. I told her what I had seen and thought.
She immediately got out two large grocery sacks and went to her bedroom. She loaded up both bags full to the top with gifts. The only items I remember in the bags were Stompers (a battery-powered small monster truck) for Mike and his little brother.
I remember she ran around the house and out to the garage finding more stuff to send with me in the bags. I do remember the bags were so full, we for sure could not fit one more item in them.
I bundled up and hurried out the door with the bags.
This time the walk to Mike’s house was quick. I stared at the caramel popcorn balls in the top of the bag and had to smell them the whole way there. I had never felt anything like this before. I was so excited to get there. At that time, I had no idea what the contents of the bags would mean to the family.
I knocked on the door and Mike’s mom answered and was surprised to see me back. I handed her the bags and she invited me in. As it became apparent to her what was in the bags, Mike’s mom began sobbing. I handed the gifts out the best I could. My mom and I had not went through which gifts were for which kid.
It did not matter.
Each one of the kids tore open the gifts and were thrilled to have them as if it was just what they wanted. I don’t remember why, but I only was there for a few minutes and then went home.
Nothing was ever said to me that I can remember, but I believe Mike’s mom and my mom had a conversation later that day. Mike moved away that same year and we did the best we could to keep in touch, but not attending the same school made it difficult to keep up.
Although Mike and his family moved away, I will never forget that Christmas as it has made a great impact on my life. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your example of giving all through the year and especially during the holidays.
Jeff Anderson lives in Chandler, Arizona.