I’ve been scanning more old family photos, and they’ve brought memories surfacing from the depths of my mind, touching my heart. Especially now. December 15th was my dad’s birthday.
He was born in the early years of the 20th century and grew up through the Great Depression. He remembers walking the railroad tracks with his two brothers, Ben and Bill, scavenging for lost coal that fueled the trains. I’ve written before of how he and his brothers were often housed in orphanages after their mother deceased and their father was away on government ships.
The photo here was painful to see. In this depressing atmosphere, my dad worked to repair trucks at the General Electric division in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
I also mentioned the character of these young men who knew the value of home and family life they never had, how it bound them together for a lifetime, how their example was passed on to the children in the family. And despite their minor flaws and foibles, honesty, courage, camaraderie, and generosity, were their guiding values.
Each year, Dad played Santa Claus at the Christmas party for children of General Electric employees. In the photo below, he carefully descends the narrow stairs at the union hall as he greets the children. One year, my young cousin Gary piped up, “That ain’t Santa Claus!” When we asked why he thought that, Gary replied, “Because he’s wearing Uncle Walt’s shoes.” He was right. My dad’s big, old brogans, though always neatly polished, told the shape of his foot and many repairs.
And finally, below is my dad with wedding gifts presented by fellow employees…
Everything in that picture has a story to tell. My Mom used the iron in the laundry room where the clock kept perfect time until her decline and move into my sister Susan’s care. The sale of her house was traumatic for all of us. Dad, with help from his brothers, Ben and Bill, and friends, painstakingly built the house over time.
Look around you. Look through old photos. What stories do those people or objects tell?
Let it be a tale of the true values of life. Not greed and the lust for power, or the many evils mankind is capable of.
Let it be a tale of forgiveness, of honesty, love, and compassion for every fellow human being, as befits the true gift of Christmas, whatever your beliefs.