My Christmas Gift To You

The story you are about to read is really a gift I have been given to share with you. I know it’s a bit long but, I hope you take the time to read it. My hope is that you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing for you… Norm Mickle

I believe that Christmas is a magical time of the year. I thought it was time to share with you a gift I received a few years ago. The gift I want to share with you is a concept I call “You Get By Giving”. This concept is mystical, magical, and almost biblical

YOU GET BY GIVING

This concept does not come to you with out rules.

Rule # 1. You must always give first.

Rule # 2. You must expect nothing in return.

The Gift.  It will come back to you 10 fold.

Do you believe in Santa Claus? My wife Janet has owned a small restaurant called “MEALTIME EXPRESS” for almost 22 years. Secretly we have been spearheading a program called “Secret Santa” for the past 8 years. In the beginning we would pick a family or two that we heard about through our church, and we have the pastor visit that family. He would get a wish list from the kids, and Jan and I would go out and buy the gifts. The families never knew who actually made this happen. Well, things have snowballed since then.

This year we hosted the 7th Annual Secret Santa Benefit Dinner that helps raise the funds to expand the program. Last year this group of volunteers raised enough money to buy six gifts (right off of their Christmas Wish list) for 87 children from 33 local families. Each family recieved a Gift Certificate from their local grocery store so they could prepare a Christmas meal fit for a king.

Jan’s sister Maxine co-ordinates the whole program. She is instrumental in setting up what to buy, keeps the books all in order and even sets up Santa’s delivery schedule. None of this could be done without the help of Jan’s family, her brother Joe and his wife Helga, her sister Charlene and her husband Ken along with Liz Mickle, Pauline Shaw, Janet Clifford, Tim McCalister, a pastors wife from Kingsville and all the volunteers who come out and help.

Jan actually closes the restaurant and hosts the dinner. We donate all the food for the benefit. Every penny of the $20 ticket price goes the Secret Santa Program. Even the waitresses come back in and donate their time. There is a 50/50 draw at each of the 4 sittings. The restaurant only holds 50 people, so we hold 4 sittings and we sell over 300 tickets including take out. There always seem to be lots of raffle prizes to buy tickets for. By the way, we are not sure how we get these raffle prizes. We have never gone to local businesses and asked for them; the owners just show up and drop stuff off. Hmmmm, maybe they have heard of “YOU GET BY GIVING”.

This year the Secret Santa Program will look after even more families, thanks to all of the help that these folks gave them. We know that everyone that attended the dinner or bought take out tickets, donated a prize, brought in a toy or gave money have all dug deep to help out. We also know how blessed we are to be given the opportunity to do this. We could not do this with out them and May God Bless Them All.

You Get By Giving

My brother Jim (Santa) passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack 5 years ago. My sister-in-law Liz (Mrs. Claus) vowed never to wear the outfit again. By the way, she handmade these outfits herself. They are magnificent. Pastor Steve, who buried my brother and who was instrumental in helping find the families, agreed to wear the Santa outfit as long as Liz would be his partner. Reluctantly she did. How can you tell your pastor NO? She experienced the gleaming little faces she and Santa visited that year and realized the importance of this program.

You see, you get by giving. Losing your soul mate is devastating and you think you will never love again. Liz found the love she thought she lost in the faces of the kids she visits every year. The legend that my brother started lives on through her and her commitment to this program. You Get by Giving – Sometimes it comes back to you ten fold right away. You must always give first and expect nothing in return, and sometimes it comes back to you through a life changing, life saving, event.

Pastor Steve was transferred the next year and now there is no Santa. So, off I go in search of the next person who will fill my brother’s shoes. The perfect guy was my brother-in-law, John. Now, John is a very friendly guy. He is a truck driver who also looks like what you think of when you think of a 55-year-old biker. He fits the Santa suit perfectly, shaves his head and has an Indian Feather Tattoo on his arm with his grandkids’ names on it. There is no way he is going to do this for me. Of course, I am a pretty good salesman.

With the help of the kids’ experiences and my wife and his wife nagging him, we shamed John into the suit. Now, there is something very magical about the Christmas season. John’s (Santa’s) first experience was during the first snowfall of the year. Snow was softly falling, just enough to see it in the street lights, just enough to make it a very special, magical Christmas Eve. Santa, Mrs. Claus and 3 elves dressed in green ponchos, red and white stockings, green hats with the perfect elf ears attached to them and pointed curly toed shoes (all hand made by Mrs. Claus and sister Pauline, one of the elves), knocked on their first door to make a delivery. A short, curly haired 6-year-old girl answered the door with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. She screamed to her father announcing who was at the door. My shy and timid (tough guy) Santa half-heartedly gave a “HO HO HO” and went into the house.

Once he and his entourage got in with all their gifts, he started to feel a little more comfortable. He already knew the situation he was going into. Dad was very grateful for our presents, but felt there were a lot more deserving families than his. He lost his job awhile back, his wife left him and he had custody of the two children. He had told his kids that his unemployment cheque was due to come in next week and they would have Christmas then. There were tears coming down from the corners of his eyes when he saw all we had done for him and his girls. He asked Santa and his helpers to stay for a moment so he could take a picture. With the 2 girls on Santa’s lap and his gang snuggled around, Dad snapped the picture. The batteries were dead. Dad’s head fell down and he wiped off the tears of disappointment. He started to apologize to the group when his little 6-year-old girl ran from the picture frame into the kitchen. Santa could hear her rustling through a drawer, and she ran back to her dad with a photo in her hand, tugged on his shirtsleeve and said, “Dad don’t cry, it’s OK I have a picture with Santa Claus in the mall from last year.”

Out of the mouths of babes, Santa got up, wished a Merry Christmas to the three occupants of that blessed home and took his entourage back to the “sleigh” (actually a pick up truck I was driving). I asked Santa how it went and he could not speak as he pushed back his own tears to keep from sobbing out loud. That did it, now I can’t get him out of that Santa suit.

Sometimes you give reluctantly, hoping you get nothing in return. In John’s case, the rewards are not 10 fold; they are priceless.

This program is a win, win, win for everyone involved. The folks that get involved finding the families from a list of kids who they help every day – a WIN. The churches that help find the families – it’s a great out reach program – a WIN. All the volunteers who get that warm fuzzy feeling from the accomplishment made from all of their hard work – a WIN. The last and most important winners are the kids and their families. Who knows how that all turns out, but I can tell you this: over the years, our pastors have come to us with unanimous donations. All they would tell us is the money came from a family who was visited at one time by Santa and his gang.

You Get By Giving – is a concept that will help you to start Building treasures in heaven. Reach out and touch some one’s life and you too will receive the same gift that was given to me.

Merry Christmas Everyone,

May God Bless You and Yours,

Norm Mickle