Not so long ago, I was working on a Christmas story in Forest City, and in the process I was talking with a lot of people and asking them to share their favorite Christmas memories. There were those who remembered how great it was to find a new bike under the tree, and one lady who was so excited to get the perfect doll house. Another lady told me her favorite Christmas memory was of her grandmother and mother, who started cooking a few days before Christmas, and how wonderful the house smelled. I can relate to that one.
One couple said it was when they got married on Christmas Day; now that’s an easy way to not forget your anniversary. They went on to tell me how much they both loved Christmas and each other, and they could not think of a better time to get married. And their love for each other showed as they shared their story with me.
I later found myself in the midst of several people, and I asked, “Who’s got a great Christmas memory to share?” One fellow said, “I do,” and he went on to share his memories as a young boy and the excitement of Christmas with all of his family on Christmas morning.
And as he finished, I heard a voice coming from behind the crowd, and I could tell it was the voice of an older lady. As she got closer, she said, “I do, I have a Christmas memory.” She said, “I have a story for you,” and when we were close enough to see and hear each other clearly, she went on to say, “My family was very poor and we didn’t have much of anything at all, and me and my sister didn’t really expect anything for Christmas.”
Then with a bit of a smile on her wrinkled and weathered face, she began to recall one special Christmas, and with a tear appearing in the corner of her eye, she said, “It was the best Christmas morning ever.” Under the little Christmas tree there were two bags, one with her name on it and the other with her sister’s name. She went on to say, with excitement, “We both got our own bag of jelly beans and we ate just one a day.” According to her, those jelly beans lasted a good while and when they went to school they would hide them, and count them when they got back home to make sure no one had taken any. We talked for a while longer and, with a parting hug, I walked away and gave much thought to what I had just witnessed.
Well, I can tell you the truth, I was not expecting a story like that. I’m not sure why. I was not asking the question with deliberate or pre-conceived notions; however, the simplicity and emotion of her story was quite moving and I’m pretty sure that I will never be able to eat a Jelly Bean and not remember the little lady who shared her Jelly Bean Christmas Memory.
I realize that as I write this down so I won’t forget this special moment in time, I do in fact love the notion of The Christmas Spirit. I love the fact that kind words and simple gifts can be profoundly meaningful. I Believe.