A couple of weeks ago Colton asked me to write a blog post for the holidays. I jumped at the chance. I sat down with some eggnog, put on some carols, and just stared at a blank computer screen. I had nothing. The truth was I wasn’t feeling in the holiday spirit. Some time passed and the blank screen stayed. Then one morning I woke up to snow on the ground and in the air. This was it. This is what I have been missing, now I can write. I popped on some music, sat down at the computer, and nothing came to me.
With a cloud hanging over my head and a blank screen on my laptop, I headed over to a buddy’s garage for a fierce night of ping-pong and beers. As I was headed back home after a win-less night but with raised spirits, I remembered a story my Grandpa had told me.
It was 1926 in Wales. On the dead end of a street there was a dirt-floored house where an Irish family lived. The oldest boy in that house was my grandfather. He was 10 years old, and like any 10-year-old the Christmas season was filling him with hope and desire. He also was a product of his upbringing, he knew there would be no presents under a tree for him, and no stocking filled with candies. His father was struggling to find much in the way of work since the castle construction had finished the year before. Nonetheless, he was still happy to see the festive mood in the air on his daily runs to find peat or coal to heat their home. Now awakening on Christmas morning with his three sisters, he wouldn’t have guessed that the day was going to end up being one of the most memorable experiences of his life. On this cold December morning, there was a knock at the door. Outside was the Salvation Army asking for all the children in the household. His sisters and him huddled around the front door as wondering what was going on. Then catching them completely off guard the Salvation Army gave them each a very special present. An orange.
Just a simple orange, but to 10-year-old boy who lived in a dirt-floored house in a poor immigrant section of Cardiff, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The color of it lit up his life. It raised his heart to the heavens. An orange was a luxury item in his house. He had seen them but he had never eaten one. Now here in his hands he held his own orange. He treasured that orange and didn’t start eating until much later in the day. He simply sat and looked at this glowing object in his house. He of course eventually ate the orange savoring every bite of it. He would always tell us that there wasn’t a happier child in the whole of Wales that Christmas.
80 years after that Christmas he was still telling the story of the best Christmas present he ever received. 80 years later the actions of a stranger on a dead-end street in Cardiff, still made his eyes twinkle and brought a smile to his face.
Thinking back on his story did it for me. I knew that I wanted to share that story with all of you. Here’s hoping that this holiday season you find your own orange and give away a few as well.
Happy Holidays everyone, be joyous, be safe, and be a little more filled with wonder this season. I will leave you all with one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time hoping it might put you in the seasonal mood.
- Dan Murphy