About two weeks ago I wrote a piece on Frank Capra’s inspiring 1946 film “It’s A Wonderful LIfe”. Of the two things that I mentioned that have endured in my life from watching that film, one of them recently played itself out for me. The George Bailey character in the movie, played so marvelously by Jimmy Stewart, was given an opportunity to see what the world would be like had he not been born. On this aspect of the film I commented:
Most of our actions are daily and seemingly mundane but everyone of us have perhaps said or done something once in our life that has made an impact on another and perhaps altered their life to some degree. Were we always aware of how our comments and actions are filtered by those we come into contact with, we might weigh them more prudently and less-selfishly.
Today, I stepped out my front door on my way to the mailbox and almost tripped over a beautiful potted Poinsettia.
I thought at first that a friend of my wife’s had left it for her. She seems to do a lot of “secret Santa” type stuff each year. But the note attached to the plant dispelled that notion and left me just a bit astonished. It had obviously been typed out on a computer printer but it was so informally written as to give me the sense that it was handwritten. I was moved as I read it.
We have lived on Emerson Lane near Woodrow Wilson Elementary School for the past 15+ years. During this time, we have driven past your home on our daily commutes to school, work, church grocery stores. (Piggly Wiggly), etc.
Each Thanksgiving our children watched with anticipation for Santa and Mrs. Claus kissing under the huge star on your roof.
It was officially the Christmas season when “Santa and Mrs. Claus by the Pig Store” when(sic) up!
Our kids (twins) are 22 years old now and of course “The Pig Store”” is long gone.
Thank you for providing a Christmas Tradition to our family.
The letter was signed but I’ll withhold it here for reasons that respect the lady’s privacy who signed it. I do not recognize her name even though Emerson Lane is a mere two blocks just north of my house. The “Pig Store” she’s referring to is the Piggly Wiggly grocery store that shut down a little over a year ago. They simply weren’t profitable enough to compete with Kroger’s nearby and the Super Wal-mart store a few miles from here. The building remains empty to this day.
“Santa and Mrs. Claus” are two hardwood cutouts my wife bought some 15 plus years ago from an acquaintance who did this type of art work as a hobby, but one that provided a small income for them, especially during the holiday season. It’s anchored to a front brick facade on my house as seen here.
Santa is holding a sprig of mistletoe over Mrs. Claus’ head to entice her for perhaps a farewell kiss before he summons Rudolph and friends to set out on their annual global trek.
The star on my roof is five strands of miniature lights connected together that I have hand-fashioned into the shape my heretofore unknown admirer and her kids have enjoyed all of these years. I marked the star’s point spots with a colored caulk that matches the roof shingles so I can easily locate them each year without the hassle of trying to successfully achieve each year what I was able to do on my first effort nearly two decades ago.
Several of our friends have commented on the star and one businessman that lived around the block from our home some years ago (and who has since moved) stopped by to ask one day how I had created a star that size that looks reasonably symmetrical in its design. “Got Lucky”, I told him. But I made sure that it wouldn’t be luck in the future by marking the star’s points.
Each year as I age it get’s a little tougher to put out the Christmas decorations. I did stop putting up lights along the front facia trim and up the ridges of the roof because it was just becoming too physically taxing. I was going to stop laying out the star also but my wife, who really get’s into dressing up the house, keeps encouraging me each year to continue. I think the fact that so many of her friends comment on it each year makes her feel that it’s important to not let them down. But it wasn’t until we received this poinsettia and the note that if became clear to me how much something as simple as this not only gave her friends a few weeks of pleasure each time they passed by but how it has become a “Christmas tradition” for an entire family that we have never even met.
I now realize that until my body is completely crippled, I must find the energy each year to put Santa and Mrs. Claus up, stealing a kiss under the make-shift “Star of David”, lest I ruin a moment of delight for a few of my neighbors. The crass commercialism that this holiday has become a part of has ruined the mood for me as I’m sure it has with most everyone else. But now there is renewed meaning for me. One that reaffirms the emotional joy that only children can exude from seeing symbols of the holiday that enable their sense of anticipation for that special morning under the Christmas tree.