Heart of the Matter
By Mayor Robert Hale
There are warm activities of this festive Season that I love: gathering of family, friends and neighbors around a dinner table or on kitchen barstools; sharing a traditional favorite family food; retelling of all the favorite 2018 happenings; measuring how tall the youngsters in our lives have grown since last we were together; participating in the winter and Holiday special performances at schools, churches, arts centers and clubs; the long nights filled with holiday lights in the neighborhoods of our Valley; cheering on our favorite sure-to-win-this-year bowl game sports teams; and many more activities that are designed to create positive memories and draw us closer to those we love and befriend.
If in all our regaling, we must remember there are many who have not what they need for this cold time of year. We must willingly donate our time, resources, and some of ourselves to lift the burden of sadness, ill health, loneliness, separation anxiety, stress and lack of hope of our neighbor.
A few years ago, my wife asked that I go to the nearby grocery to purchase an ingredient for the coming Christmas Eve family dinner. It was a cold and rainy evening. I used an umbrella. As I walked the back street, I noticed a bright orange tent or tarp clinging to the wet electrical boxes at the back of the store. A car was parked nearby, an unusual sight. I made my purchase and as I retraced my path home, I noticed the car was gone, but the orange cover was still there. I voiced a loud greeting, “Hello, the tent!” I got a male response. I asked if he were all right and dry. Rain was falling hard. The forecast was for the rain to change to heavy, wet snow around midnight.
Now heavy, wet snow on Christmas Eve was a joyful occurrence! All the neighborhood was excited, especially the children. Santa would for sure ride his sleigh rather than a helicopter. But this rain – and the forecast snow would not be pleasant for anyone under a tent!
My mind thought about a week-long getaway that our church youth planned in Payson Canyon a few years ago. A late spring snowstorm hit during the night and all the tents collapsed. The leaders ferried everyone down to Payson City where they were put up in a church cultural hall for the week. The tents were retrieved ten days later when the canyon road became passable again. I feared the same thing would happen to this man. I went on home, delivered the ingredients in a timely manner only to get another requested purchase at the store. Still raining hard, I goulashed my way to the store again. But on my return trip, I decided to become more acquainted with this peregrino. I walked around the transformer and stopped short of the tent door.
“Hello?” I queried. “Are you planning on staying here all night?”
“Hi. Yes. I have nowhere else to go.”
“What is your name?”
“Larry, do you know that this rain is going to change over to snow in the middle of the night and that it will become very unpleasant staying here?” I asked.
“No, I didn’t know the forecast,” he replied.
After a thorough review of his total belongings, or lack thereof, I asked: “Would you come with me to my home on this Christmas Eve?”
Larry was not able to spend this night with the mother of his children. He was cold, shivering and very lonely. He accepted my offer.
I went home quickly without Larry to advise my wife of the unexpected guest we would have this night. With her approval, I returned and escorted Larry along with a few of his important belongings. These included some gifts he had purchased for his two children.
We fed Larry, let him shower, gave him wrapping paper for his gifts, fed and housed him in a spare bedroom for the night. In the morning, he didn’t arise as early as the grandchildren in our home. We were well into breakfast and the morning activities when Larry came to our kitchen. We gave him a warm breakfast, and he was off to visit his children for the day. We wondered how it had gone.
Larry returned the next morning to retrieve his belongings and was off to another safe location. We have never seen him since. But he was in our prayers. God and His children can capably watch over mankind. “Mankind is my business!” exclaimed Marley in Christmas Carol. We need to open our lives, our cliched fist, our tight wallet. We can extend a hand, give of our time, and share our abundant riches and blessings with those less fortunate.
May this Holiday Season be a blessing in your lives and in those of your neighbors, friends and family.