When I was an infant, my parents separated and my Dad flew the coop. Maybe he didn’t like being a dad, maybe he found love elsewhere, maybe he just did what he had to do, but he left and didn’t leave behind a joint chequing account filled with money or alimony support either.
I was only 1 but apparently, it wasn’t a great situation at the humble Tite household. On government assistance, alone with 4 children, and after years of Spina Bifida, not that mobile, my mother had to buckle down and simply focus on putting food in our mouths opposed to buying Christmas sweaters or $6 Million Dollar Man action figures. Not an easy thing for a mom to do.
We had an Aunt Norma who wasn’t really an Aunt but one of those good family friends who we called an Aunt. She cussed like a Tavern regular. She was louder than Foghorn Leghorn. And, as we found out that first Christmas, she had a heart of gold.
Norma wasn’t wealthy by any stretch. Not even close. Like most working class families, they struggled to make ends meet and actually had to save throughout the year so they could appropriately celebrate Christmas.
That Christmas, Norma went to her siblings and extended family.
She asked them to hold back one gift originally intended for their children and instead, donate that gift to my mom so she could give us a Christmas.
Can you believe that? Rip a gift out of your children’s hands so someone else’s kids can share in the joy? Unbelievable generosity from people who didn’t have a lot to be generous with.
Miraculously, the four of us got presents that year.
We eagerly ripped them open completely unaware of the emotional turmoil our mom had been through leading up to that morning or the circumstances that had transpired to put gifts under our tree.
Clearly, I don’t remember what was wrapped.
This narrative is the result of people telling me about that year because my first hand knowledge of the situation is limited to “I think I had a dirty diaper.”
Still, I think about it often.
Throughout our lives, the holidays change. The gifts change, the food changes, the traditions change, the people change.
But one thing doesn’t. The holidays are about one thing: Putting smiles on people’s faces.
Whether it’s through stocking stuffers, compliments on the food, letting someone take your parking spot, or saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to a stranger, here’s hoping you can put a smile on someone’s face over the coming days.
We spend all year learning, thinking, and working to put products in people’s hands.
Over the next week, let’s put smiles on people’s faces.
May your smile be bright.