Time often turns memories into a foggy mist. Over the years we become convinced that a few decades ago represent the real and true “good ol’ days.”
We long for the time when people were taught that the “t” in often is silent; that “hopefully” is an adverb and “gifted” and adjective. We recall the days when the Christmas shopping season didn’t commence after the July 4 holiday, as it seems to now. On the pages of our memories, it always snowed on Christmas Eve and every child received exactly what they wanted each Christmas morning.
But here’s the thing — take a look at some archived newspaper coverage from the 1950s and 1960s and you’ll see stories that say people back then — in the “good ol’ days — thought the world was falling to pieces, too. Their “good ol’ days” stretched back even farther. The whipper-snappers of their times were ruining everything, too.
So let’s take a minute and examine the reality of the good ol’ days that are with us right now, this very minute, this very Christmas season.
It’s important to note that people all across the Archdiocese of Louisville are doing wonderful things for each other, for those in need, for our community as a whole. What follows is just a partial list of
Christmas time beneficence, but it ought to be enough to help us realize that, even given the problems of the world — the wars abroad, the economic troubles at home — people have good hearts.
People such as David Bohn, who along with this wife Whitney has, for the second year in the archdiocese, mobilized more than 1,500 volunteers and collected more than $94,000 to buy gifts and toys for needy area families. Bohn calls his effort the “St. Nick Fund,” and it has enlisted the services of people from several local parishes, including St. Bernard, St. Michael, St. Edward and St. Gabriel churches.
Reporter Jessica Able provides details of the St. Nick Fund’s work in a story in this week’s issue of The Record, but the success of Bohn’s efforts deserves this additional mention. The fund has grown, Bohn believes “because it’s pure.”
“It’s not just people giving a donation, but they also shop for the gift,” he said, and in some cases those volunteers hand-deliver what they’ve chose to the needy — and grateful — recipients.
David and Whitney Bohn have made it a point to involve students. On the day of one recent shopping trip to gather gifts, more than 200 students were present.
Chances are those students will remember this year’s Christmas for a long time to come.
Then there are the people of St. Barnabas Church on Hikes Lane. For the second year in a row, they will give their community and the surrounding neighborhood the gift of a living Nativity. And that simple statement in no way captures the depth of this year’s gift.
According to Penny McTighe, the parish’s director of pastoral care services, the living Nativity scene will be presented Dec. 14 and 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the church, 3042 Hikes Lane. The living Nativity will be surrounded by about 10,000 lights decorating the church campus. More than 250 dozen cookies will be handed out to visitors. A dozen different vocal groups will sing Christmas carols; 156 people from the parish have volunteered, as have two dozen Boy Scouts.
The scene will also include four sheep, two llamas, two miniature horses, a lamb, a donkey, a calf and a goat. A parishioner is carving a camel, a star and building the manger, and the actors portraying the living Nativity will range in age from six months to 94 years old. It will be, said McTighe, “quite an inter-generational experience.”
“When we gathered last Saturday (Dec. 1) to start decorating the campus with a gazillion lights,” she noted, “the first person to visit was 94-year-old Deacon Jim Plummer.”
“These haven’t been easy time for people over here” in the community, said McTighe. “So this really is our gift to them, and it’s an evangelization effort, absolutely. Here’s something they can walk to; it’s free and they can enjoy it. It’s been an amazing experience, with all the people at St. Barnabas who’ve come forward to help, and people from other parishes, too.”
It’s almost guaranteed to produce a Christmas to remember for all those who take part. In years to come, this year’s Christmas will be one of the good ol’ Christmases in their memories and in their hearts.
That will be the case, too, for all those who helped with this year’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul Santa Shop, or McKenzie’s Coat Closet or Blanket Louisville. It will be a Christmas to remember for those who helped Catholic Charities, the St. John Center, the Knights of Columbus — or any other effort to bring the holidays to those who need our help.
Giving is the very nature of Christmas. God gave his son to us; we give his love to others. Do that and we’ll realize that these are the good ol’ days.