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I know now how those firemen felt

Judie Hartwick

December 1945: I am a little girl in Michigan, and at the moment am excited beyond control. My tiny heart is pounding out of my chest. I am watching out the window and anticipating the ringing of the doorbell any minute, and I know that once again there will be no disappointments.

I can count on the fact that when we open the door, the Blue Angels will be standing there, fresh fallen snow on their shoulders and bigger-than-life smiles on their cold faces.

They are the local firemen dressed in their blue dress uniforms with shiny badges, the firemen who will make sure that the families without means will not go without Christmas gifts.

I am no longer a little girl, although I am feeling exactly the same as when I saw the firemen. My heart is once again pounding. I look up at my husband, Lee, walking beside me in the deep snow. He seems somehow even taller than usual and much bigger. He walks proudly with his head high, carefully balancing the boxes of gifts. He looks at me and smiles, wrinkling his eyes. We both know what the other is thinking. Our snow boots make squeaking sounds as they burrow down into several inches of snow. We are slowly approaching the home of a well-deserving senior citizen, and we are thrilled to be the bearers of gifts.

There are canned vegetables, fruits and meats, including a ham. There is a lap throw for warmth, fresh fruit, necessary paper products and many other miscellaneous items that most of us need and some can’t afford. There is also a cash gift for the senior to get something that perhaps we had not thought of.

We ring the doorbell and are met warmly by a smiling angelic face, a woman who is alone except for her cat, and in need of many things due to a lack of money, but certainly not a lack of medical problems.

We are asked in, and we chat, excitedly going through all the things we have brought her. She is so appreciative; her eyes tear up and so do ours. After a nice visit, we give her a hug, wish her a merry Christmas and a much healthier New Year than her last.

We look at each other as we walk back through the holes made by our boots. Our eyes are still damp.

We are the fortunate bearers of gifts donated by a wonderful organization called the Minden/Douglas Elks Lodge. They donate to several seniors every year, those who are chosen through the senior center. This is only one of the many things they do all year. All of their fund-raising proceeds go back into the community.

A lot of volunteers work hard all year. Most of them never need recognition. They do it year after year (Carson City also has an Elks lodge, which I’m sure does the same generous thing).

Lee and I just happened to be two of the lucky few who had the pleasure of meeting one of the recipients. It made Christmas very special for us. We would do it again and again.

Now I know how the firemen felt.

Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone.

Judie Hartwick is a resident of Carson City.