I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great Christmases.
My parents have never made a ton of money, but they’ve made enough. They’ve given everything they’ve had to make sure my little sister and I had whatever we wanted.
But one Christmas we got a little less.
I was in seventh grade, and I ran cross country. I was terrible – like most of our team—but our guys’ captain was one of the fastest runners I’d ever seen. He was also one of the sweetest and most genuine guys I had ever met.
James placed in the top five at our state competition, so he received a bid to nationals. It was in Hawaii that year, and he was pumped to go. But Hawaii was really expensive, and James came from a family, like many in Vicksburg, that couldn’t afford to send their kid on a trip like that. He found out right around Christmas.
There are many people in Ruston and around Tech who live a life like James. They work hard. They do right. But their circumstances are different, and they can’t get the luxuries many of us have. It’s a really sad system.
As early as Jan. 1, many of us start making our Christmas lists. No, they’re not official, but in our heads, we think about it. That’s the way we’ve grown up.
But there are others around us who just ask for the basics.
A few weeks ago, I saw a Domestic Abuse Resistance Team angel on Facebook. The angels represent children around the community who probably will not get Christmas presents this year in hopes that community members will step in and help. The angel I saw asked for a $20 Walmart gift card for food. For food.
We are often too busy worrying about getting a Michael Korrs watch or an Xbox One for Christmas to notice that those around us are not getting anything. And that’s not what the season is about.
To this day, I don’t know how much my parents gave to James, but I know he went to Hawaii. He competed at cross country nationals, where I’m sure college scouts saw him run. I’m not sure what happened to him, but I know he had a great opportunity, and I’m sure he made the best of it.
I don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year or what my family did to celebrate, but I do remember the look on my mom’s face when we left James’ apartment, and I do remember the look on his face when my mom gave him the envelope. Those are things I can never forget.
We changed James’ life for a moment. My parents gave a hardworking kid who never asked for anything but an opportunity he deserved. And that – not name-brand handbags and video games – is what the season is about.
Allison East is a senior history and journalism major from Vicksburg, Miss. who serves as news editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to ace...@latech.edu.