I never volunteer but Santa needed my help


Asking someone to volunteer their time during the Christmas Holiday season is probably a difficult task. The words may stream forth with ease as though they were small stones in a quick flowing stream. Somewhere in the back of your mind you know you are asking someone to donate their time and effort to perform a mission of mercy. Also, no easy task is answering that call to action. Visions come to mind of getting stuck… literally, up the proverbial stream with no paddle and not even the slightest current to push you along.

Now, remember that this is only a few days before the Christmas holiday. Last minute Christmas shopping, gifts that need wrapping, the wife - children – relatives, time off the job…. all instill visions of horror, such as long lines and ill-tempers. But, “Could you play Santa Claus to a little girl who wrote a letter to Santa asking for nothing for herself - but the smallest of things for her little sisters and brother who are not fortunate enough to afford a Christmas with lots of gifts under their tree?” My heart went out to that little girl. Forgetting that old adage – "Never volunteer for anything", I say - “Sure, here I am sarge! Front and center! Reporting for duty”! I clocked out at 1700 (5:00PM) and began the task of loading the gifts (one frozen 10 lb. Tom Turkey, several stuffed dolls and animals and a few Hot Wheels toy cars) into a 775 tub and then into my vehicle, carefully remembering to take Melissa’s letter with me just in case. After poring through the Thomas Guide to locate the address on little Melissa’s letter, I found myself smiling and whistling as I drove down the 405 freeway toward Sepulveda, California, 91343-6743 (postal employee right to the end, don’t forget your Zip + 4).

Parking was almost non-existent. The streets not well-lit. The atmosphere very inner-city. My thoughts ranging the gamut from self recrimination, “why oh why did I say, yes?” to the old “flight” syndrome. Run, run, run away. But I took hold of my senses and found a parking space about half a block away. While walking to Melissa’s apartment building, my arms full, I tried to conjure up nice thoughts; angels atop tall fragrant Christmas trees with brightly wrapped gifts stacked underneath or sugar plum fairies, etc. So the building was in disrepair. So it was a three-story walk-up to Melissa’s apartment. So what if I would return to find my car up on cinder blocks, all four tires missing and my stereo gone!

I began to think of what I would say as I knocked on her door. Maybe just a simple, “it’s Santa”! “Kinda south of your usual route, aren’t ya Santa?” Well, knock on her door I did. A timid voice from within answered, “who is it?” I am not sure what made me say it – but out popped “Santa”. The response from inside saying, “Who?” Once again, I answered, “Santa” – and added, “from the United States Postal Service”. Still no recognition in her voice and the same response once again, “who?” “Your daughter wrote a letter to Santa Claus and I’m from the United States Postal Service with gifts for Melissa and her family.” Aha, that’s the ticket! The door opened and there was Melissa, her mom and several siblings all wide-eyed and standing neatly in a row, behind their mom. I quickly fished Melissa’s letter from my pocket and proceeded to explain how the entire system worked. As I pulled each gift from the 775 tub, the children could barely hide their excitement. They quickly rushed forward pushing their mom to the side. I said that if it weren’t for Melissa’s excellent letter that none of this would be happening. With that said, Melissa’s mother’s eyes began to water ever so slightly. She could hardly believe what was transpiring. She tried to thank me, while at the same time reaching to shake my hand. Melissa’s younger brother had his hands full with those Hot Wheels cars, loudly squealing, “Vrooom, vrooom” as he ran back into the apartment. Melissa’s two sisters had their arms wrapped so tightly around their stuffed toys, I thought they may need CPR.

As I handed the turkey to Melissa’s mom, no words needed to be said. Her expression was more than enough. Finally there was the gift for Melissa, a beautiful, big teddy bear wearing a back-pack filled with other goodies. Melissa was overjoyed. Her mother’s expressions ranging back and forth from pride to happiness. I wished them all a very Merry Christmas and knew that somewhere north of Canada, Santa was smiling, knowing that his work was made easier by the United States Postal Service and it’s legion of elves. So, as for the question, “to volunteer or not to volunteer”, the question answers itself with no words needed to be spoken.

DATE PUBLISHED: 2012-09-26 18:57:31
AUTHOR NAME: Robin Rosenblat
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