Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
About a dozen or so police men and women and some helpers took a number of area youngsters on a foray for Christmas presents at a local store, then went to the town’s City Hall for food and gift wrapping.
It was big fun for the kids who got to ride in a “police car parade” on the way to and from the store, sirens blaring and lights flashing on the big, black and white cruisers.
Then to the Hall for sub sandwiches, chips, soda, donuts, Christmas candy, and holiday-decorated cupcakes while officers and others helped the young gift-wrappers measure, cut, wrap, tape, and label stacks of gifts the kids purchased for family members, although it was about shopping for themselves, too.
Due to popular demand, there were also a couple of hand-cuffing demonstrations.
I was a wrapping, ribbon curling, spell-checking, and clean-up elf. My niece and her friend manned a table in the back of the room. My sister helped in the Hall and assisted in the store.
By the time the event was finished, some 5 hours from the start, all the presents were wrapped, taped, be-ribboned and labeled; kids were smiling; helpers were feeling the joy; and a few police officers, one who had come straight from graveyard shift, were, I strongly suspect, heading for a long winter’s nap…
I can’t wait until next year.
And the officers I spoke with and thanked for this wonderful contribution to the community, responded in like manner.
- The look of, for lack of a better term, utter adoration on the face of the little guy who stood in the midst of the festive hubbub for a few minutes just staring at Officer So-and-so, looking him up and down in his uniform and shiny badge. I can’t help but wonder if some future-career seed was planted in that little boy in front of my very eyes as I wrapped, curled, spell-checked, and cleared tables.
- The fresh–faced, bright-eyed, sweet little thing who belted out, to the great amusement of those nearby, “Hey, cop, when are ya gonna ‘cuff me?”Several times.
- The exquisite patience of the officers helping little fingers deal with easily-torn wrapping paper, slippery ribbons and bows, and unwieldy tape—especially after the candy and cupcakes kicked in.
But here is my favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Little Drummer Boy” kind of gift, a sort of two-for-one gift, actually, that made the day for me:
My sister’s young charge on the shopping trip, a boy of about ten years of age she figures, had this to say to the policeman with them who, at the entrance to the store, asked the kid, “And what do you want?”
“Let’s talk about me at the end,” said the boy, as he brought out his list of what he wanted to buy for his parents, step-parents, siblings, and step-siblings.
Then, said my sister, after each selection, the boy, with the precision of a young whiz-kid, calculated the balance carefully in his head, rounding up as needed.
At the end he was short, however. He never did get to choose something for himself, worried as he was that he didn’t have quite enough for the batteries he realized he’d also have to purchase for a couple of the gifts.
“Don’t worry,” said the officer, quietly. “There will be enough.”
So I’m sure you know how this story ends… up at the checkout…where someone reached into his own wallet to help the kid with the big heart…
And, of course, add that to the donations of food, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, time, and goodwill from multiple sources in a community with a big heart.
In all the “bah, humbug” these days about a young generation thought more selfish than most and a few bad police officers (among tens of thousands of good ones) garnering all the press, I will savor this doubly-blessed gift in particular.
And in all the bah, humbug these days about the season itself, I will also savor the original message, still spelled
Ornament and wreath photographs by Andrew J. Beveridge, used with permission.
Nativity image from wikiart, public domain.