“It was written when charity was a virtue and not an organization.” My brother’s take on the King James version of I Corinthians 13, what many call “The Love Chapter.”
How can we keep Paul’s true meaning of charity as a virtue as we shop, worship, bake? Or search for our neighbors’ lost animals?
Maybe my mom had the right idea over 80 years ago:
“Baby, you know Old Man Pulliam’s saddle horse has been missing for several days. After breakfast, why don’t we fix a lunch to take along, saddle our horses and spend our day riding to see if we can find that horse? I know the Pulliams are away, but he wouldn’t be able to go hunt the horse if he were home.”
This daughter, my now 99-year-old mom, had no tree with gifts piled under it. Her mother had no turkey in the oven.
They lived in a simple homesteader’s shack. The people hoped someday to eke out a decent living from the few cows their land in this barren area of New Mexico would feed.
“We had no modern conveniences—and little communication with the outside world. We did have a post office where we got our mail on Tuesdays and Saturdays if we wanted to ride four miles on horseback.”
I love to hear her tell this story as if it happened yesterday.
“Daddy and I were alone in our little adobe house that night. I guess the average just-out-of-high-school girl would have dreamed of lights inside and out. She would hope for that wool sweater she’d seen in the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. These thoughts didn’t bother me. This Christmas Eve I had chosen to remain at home with Daddy, when my mother and my brother left to go about fifty miles away to spend the night and the holiday at an older brother’s home.”
With lunch on their saddles, they were ready to ride. This wasn’t just any lunch. Only my grandmother’s home-cured ham, homemade bread and plain cake chock full of nuts would do for Christmas day.
“The day was not stormy, but cold enough we appreciated heavy coats. I was proud to ride beside my cowboy father, for who knows how many miles, until we finally found the horse. I was pleased to know that my dad was willing to consider the simple need of an elderly neighbor.”
I wish I’d had the privilege of knowing this grandfather. He knew how to do Christmas–and Charity.