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Lights and decorations consume my view through my windshield nightly as I make the rounds in my little town of Gruver, and the Christmas Spirit in the Texas Panhandle is bigger than ever. If you know someone who doesnâ€™t appreciate that beauty or the holidays in general, maybe you could make the difference.
Some ideas that have always put smiles on the faces of the small town folks in my area growing up range from very simple, to very big. Growing up, I would take my teachers a jar of Mommaâ€™s homemade pumpkin butter which turned out to be a big hit. My father always makes sure his sister and her husband have a beautiful centerpiece for their kitchen table each Christmas. Sometimes itâ€™s the little things that mean the most, and you never know how much they may mean to someone who isnâ€™t expecting it.
One of my favorite sights in little Gruver, Texas is the park that is right in the middle of town. There is a lit nativity scene taking up part of the park, and all the trees surrounding the park are designated to loved ones that have been lost. The trees are decorated by the families and a sign with the family memberâ€™s name on it is placed beneath the tree for all to see. These memorial trees bring a special meaning to everyone during this time of year while their loved ones are missed dearly. I remember a few years ago driving by the trees and seeing my own sisterâ€™s name beneath one for the first time, and it hits home every time.
My miniature tree inside my house is a pre-lit tree filled with ornaments that have cowboy boots and silver bells. Just my style.
A friend of mine from California made fun of the fact that I do indeed have cowboy boots on my tree, but for someone from the Panhandle, it is a very common thing. Another thing that is also very common as well as inspiring, is the generosity that these small country towns possess during the holiday season. Toy, coat, and clothing drives are always a success as well as Angel Trees and anonymous donations. I have told my friends that instead of sending me a gift this year, to donate the money or the gift to a good cause related to the season.
We may not get a lot of snow, but one thing about living in Small Town, USA is the fact that everyone is showered with generosity and good spirits during the holidays, as well as throughout the year.
Something that has weighed heavy on my mind this year, after experiencing a stint as part of a teaching staff, is all the less fortunate children in the area. I have participated in finding a gift for a paper angel in the past while I was in college, because I felt like I accomplished a good deed, as well getting extra credit for a course that was lacking in easy assignments, but this year I wanted to do it just because it was going to make that little boy happy.
So, I truly do hope that little 5-year-old Daniel enjoys his new nerf gun (which I picked out because it is my personal favorite toy) as well as his new jacket and football he asked for. I donâ€™t know what he looks like, the color of his skin, or where he is from, but that doesnâ€™t even matter, because all I can picture is the big bright smile that will hopefully be on his face Christmas morning.
I encourage everyone to do a good deed this Christmas; not because you are asked to, not because it is expected of you, but because you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do so. That is a privilege not everyone has. It doesnâ€™t have to be a lot, but it will end up being more than the recipient would have if you didnâ€™t do it.
I truly hope everyone enjoys the atmosphere of Christmas in such a close-knit area and that everyone remembers why the season exists. Also, to all the Paper Angels, youâ€™re in my thoughts and prayers.
Hereâ€™s to wishing everyone a very Merry and Country Holiday season, from the Hartland.