‘A lesson of Christmas’


My mom, the late O’Diel Newman, taught me a lesson of love when I was young. I call it a lesson of Christmas.

Mom was the eldest of five children. When she was 7, her father passed away. It was during World War II and times were hard. Her mother, Edna, could not afford a lot, being alone and raising five children. One Christmas while looking in the Sears catalog “Wish Book,” the ever-so-popular doll at the time was Shirley Temple. Mom asked for the special doll but her mom explained to her that she could not afford the doll. So mom did not get the doll, but her cousin did, and she was crushed.

Mom would tell me the story every year, but she would add that even though she did not get the doll, her mother would make Christmas special and, most important, that they had each other. They would play guitar and sing; a bag of peanuts and candy for each child was all grandmother Edna could afford. It was not about what they would get, but that they were together and they loved each other. That night, they would get the gift of the baby Jesus, as he is the true meaning of Christmas.

On Oct. 3, 1971 our father passed away. I was 8 and my brother was 12. Mom was in the same situation as her mother, alone raising two young children, and as her mother before her at Christmastime, she taught us the true meaning of Christmas. Every year, she would tell me the story of the Shirley Temple doll.

In the fall and winter, mom and I would go and cut evergreen in the woods to make a little extra for Christmas. When I was about 12, she told me that whatever money I made I could keep it to spend during Christmas. I cut a ton of brush and made about $63. I set out to get family the perfect gifts! Aftershave for my brother — I think when he left home he could have started his own store! That year, Shirley Temple dolls were in the stores! I spent more than half of the money on one for my mom.

Christmas morning came and I was so excited that she would finally get the doll she dreamed of all of her life and never got! As she opened the box and realized what it was, she just sat there and cried! I said, “Mom, I did not want to make you cry.”

She cherished that doll for the rest of her life! On Oct. 3, 2007, we lost mom to renal failure. As I cleaned out her things and put them away, I found Shirley Temple. I washed her hair and cleaned her dress and she sits in my china cabinet to this day. Some day, when my daughter has a child, I will pass it on to her with this letter to share.

When I look at this doll, I remember the lesson mom taught me years ago. You see, it’s not about what your gonna get at Christmas. It’s about caring, loving each other and thinking about them before yourself. It’s the love of God that on Dec. 25 the baby Jesus was born for our salvation. Mom used to say that’s what God wants us to do: Love and be good to one another.

God bless my family and God bless all and remember it’s not about the stuff!

Shelby Dixon