Joy to the Children

My mom is eighty-three, maybe eighty-four by now; I lose track of time. Anyway, I’ve been doing my best to find her a Christmas present that she liked for as long as I can remember.

The woman wants for nothing and I guess I should be thankful for that, but part of the joy of Christmas is giving someone something that they really appreciate. . . maybe, even finding something meaningful that they keep or cherish. I’m forty-something years old and until Christmas 2009, I’m not sure that I had never experienced that feeling with my mom.

Regardless the gift or how carefully I had attempted to choose it just for her, it seemed there was always a friend or family member who could either use it more or enjoy it more. Most gifts never spent more than a few seconds in her hands before she was going thru a list of people who would “really appreciate this.”

I always understood that it was never a matter of my mom not appreciating it, but rather than she appreciated the joy of giving it to someone else more and she could always think of someone who needed it. And, trust me, I ran thru the entire list of things that say “Mother” in this process.

Christmas 2009 was a little bit different. That year, I picked my mom up in Jacksonville on Christmas Eve and brought her to Fernandina. Christmas Morning I fixed breakfast and told her that I had something very unique going on around lunchtime and I was going to need her help. She asked a lot of questions and I managed to skirt most of them successfully. It was a surprise.

A little before noon we pulled into the parking lot of the Yulee Middle School. We joined a host of others in the cafeteria and prepared ourselves to be a part of Joy To The Children for the first time. Our job was that of “Table Angel.” We played host to a family of three boys and a grandmother who was doing her best to raise them on her own. It was one family among many and three kids among hundreds. This was THEIR day!

Each child had been individually shopped for in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Most got specific things that they really wanted. Every child got a bike. They also got a host of things they needed: School supplies suited to their grade, new linens and pillows specific to their bed and favorite color, and other personal items that each child needed. Every family got fed, some were sent home with milk and juice. Families who wanted Bibles got brand new Bibles.

The Fernandina Beach Pirates Club showed up, played with kids and passed out surprises. Clowns did magic tricks and tied balloons into a variety of animals at the request of the kids who followed them around. Someone read The Night Before Christmas and led the group in singing Christmas Carols.

I watched teenagers and parents cry.

I watched them hug each other and hug their table angels.

And, my mom talked about her day with Joy To The Children until long after Easter. She said it was the best Christmas she had had in a long, long time.

How I ended up involved with Joy is a bit of a personal story. It’s an experience that I just couldn’t describe sufficiently, even if I tried to put it into words. I do know this: I’ve gotten far more out of Joy than I could ever give in return.

A lot of people know that Joy has made a difference in the lives of thousands of children through the years, but what some may not realize is the difference it has made in the lives of adults as well. I’m one of them. My mom is too. And, we’ve had a very special reason to look forward to Christmas every year since 2009.


Originally written shortly before Christmas 2010

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Joy To The Children is in need of volunteer help thru the holiday season. This organization is fueled solely by volunteers and is dedicated to bringing Christmas to children in Nassau County who would not otherwise experience the Joy of the Season. Many of our members have experienced the lasting benefits of being involved with Joy To The Children. It’s an experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.


Click Here to find out more about Joy To The Children

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