Tuesday, December 21, 2010

one of my favorite Christmas memories

Those of you who know me by now know that I grew up working at my family's hardware store on the Connecticut shoreline... I worked there what felt like literally everyday after school, and every day in the summer.  The store was started by my grandfather and has been in our family since 1939 and Wal-Mart is a curse word in our house :).  Anyways!  One holiday tradition at Page's is to have Santa's Mailbox out front between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for all the kids in town to write to Santa and receive a letter back from him*.


Every year there are a few letters that trickle in on Christmas Eve, and I have always been the one to step in to some hefty shoes and write back to the children.  I usually include a little black and white cartoon picture of rudolf so the recipient can have fun coloring after they read the letter.  Once they're all written, I drive around town (usually with my brother) and put all the letters in the mailboxes - if it's close to the end of the day, I call the house and tell them Santa just dropped a letter off in the mailbox and the kids get all excited.

Well one year in particular (back when I was in college, working at the store over holiday break), I was going through the last-minute letters and a little boy arrived with his mother, who was telling him "it's too late, Santa won't be able to write back in time" - I told her we would do what we could and smiled at the little boy, who's letter asked "Dear Santa, All we want is a Christmas tree.  We know we couldn't afford one last year but we don't even want any presents, just a tree".  This broke my heart and luckily at the store we also sell artificial, pre-lit trees and holiday decorations galore.  Together with the rest of the crew who happened to be working, we purchased several ornaments and decorations, and a few small toys, and my brother and I set off on our way to drop off the surprise.  We waited until after dinnertime and drove to the address from the letter.  The funniest part was - I was driving so poor Todd had to be the "runner".  But we had already decorated the tree so it wasn't exactly something you could "run" with, and there were also a few gifts.  But I had to be in the car, ready to make our getaway so the kids wouldn't see us!  I explained in the letter to the children that we had to drop the tree off on the front porch because the chimney wasn't open until midnight.  So Todd is running/walking/balancing this huge tree/presents down a LONG driveway and gets to the front door, when all the sudden their automated lights went on!  Todd set down the tree and presents, put the card on the tree and BOOKED it back to the car faster than I've ever seen anyone run before!  He was barely in the car when I slammed on the gas, making sure we weren't caught!  It was one of my favorite memories because we knew we made a difference in that family's holiday, and we all banded in to do it together.

Several months later, a mysterious letter showed up at the store, thanking the "Page's elves" for making their children's holiday so special.  I still have the letter and bring it out every year to remind myself of the true meaning of the holiday.

And as I was chuckling to myself remembering Todd sprinting up the driveway, scared to be caught, I figured maybe I would share that memory with you, too :)

Tis the season!

*there is a local women's group who writes back to all the letters as long as there is a return address.

38 comments:

  1. oh wow! memories like that are what keeps us humble :) thank you so much for sharing that delightful story! :)

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  2. letters to Santa and delivering return letters sounds so idyllic. like it came from a christmas movie instead of your actual life! that is a sweet and awesome thing you all did for that family. what a wonderful thing to do and a wonderful memory to have.

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  3. i love this story so much. what a great gesture! that family will never forget that!

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  4. What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. So so sweet! This is why family businesses are great. :)

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  6. This brought tears to my eyes. What a great story. I love that you all came together and did this for this family! Makes me ♥ you all the more!

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  7. I was crying by the end! Such a sweet story!

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  8. Oh my goodness...I love this story!!

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  9. What a wonderful story! It's such a great feeling to do something for people in need.

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  10. i loved reading this jacin! this is such a gorgeous memory :) you're awesome

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  11. Oh wow, what a great story! It made me laugh AND tear up!! What a wonderful thing you all did and such a great memory!

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  12. HAHA.

    I have never run so fast in my life.

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  13. Aww that is just lovely... and what this time of year is all about!

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  14. That is one amazing story. What a way to keep the true spirit alive.

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  15. well, you just made me cry. what a fantastic story. that is the epitome of holiday spirit.

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  16. This is seriuosly one of the sweetest and most admirable stories I've heard in a long time. I bet you made those kids' Christmas's just magical!

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  17. OMG you brought tears to my eyes! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE (ok you get the point) stories like that. I just hope I can make a difference like that to someone too!

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  18. Oh my goodness Jacin this brought tears to my eyes. How sweet is this. Stories like this truly showcase the meaning of Christmas.

    Bless you and your family, and bless that family all of these years later.

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  19. Oh my gosh. This story is wonderful. You are awesome :)

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  20. Todd should win the award for best Christmas spirit!

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  21. thats is the most amazing story! made me tear up. what a wonderful thing to do for the children of your town :)

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  22. That is definitely what Christmas is all about!! Saw your comment on my blog and came over to see yours and found this amazing story- and I am now in the process of reading your whole blog- love it!!

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  23. And now I'm crying...That is so beautiful I can't take it!

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  24. What an amazing story-I'm tearing up at your generosity! Beautiful!

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  25. Jacin - I love hearing stories like this one, it really makes you remember what is most important this time of year:) Thanks for sharing! And Page's sounds like a great place to visit - WalMart is a swear word in my family too:)

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  26. Okay I have tears in my eyes. What a sweet story! You all most likely MADE their Christmas. What a wonderful and sweet thing to do.

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  27. I got goosebumps reading this story! That's such a sweet and amazing thing to do for a family in need!

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  28. That is such a sweet story! You must have made their year :)

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  29. What a beautiful holiday story. I love that they called you Page's Elves! It truly is the meaning of the holiday and I love hearing wonderful heart warming stories like this. One year in high school my best friend's family couldn't afford a tree either, so a bunch of us got together and bought her family a tree. It was a great memory. They were so surprised, happy and grateful. <3

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  30. I teared up and have a lump in my throat reading that...such a beautiful story!

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  31. This is the exact reason why I love Christmas. This is about people, family, friends and generosity. This is such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us Jacin. Beautiful!

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  32. What a beautiful story :) And I don't think anyone from WalMart would have done that for a needy family ;)

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  33. Okay I am crying! What a touching story Jacin!!!! Thank you so much for sharing - because this is what it is all about! I am sure that you are not the only one that remembers that Christmas well...I am sure that the little boy and mom do too ;-)

    xoxo
    kristi

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  34. So if I drop my son's letter in there today (as I planned to but have had it in my purse for 2 weeks!), Santa will still write back to him? Lovely story, and thanks for sharing it. Very nice to know that some folks - like Page's - still 'get it' - which is why I always shop there. We need to support the people and places that are part of what makes our community great. That's Pages.

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  35. ok, maybe it is the christmas spirit getting to me... but that made me tear up. sniff, sniff.

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  36. I'm super late in catching up with blogs but I just wanted to say... You seriously freakin' rule. What a wonderful way to really remember what Christmas is for.

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