It has been over a month since my last post and I have honestly missed sharing with you folks and I have also missed reading all of your inspirational, funny, and informative posts. I had my two big fall shows and a ton of preparation leading up to them, so that is my excuse. Both shows are finished, everything relabeled, re-inventoried, re-folded and put away until after Christmas. So now I can breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the joys of Christmas.
First item on the agenda would be to get the tree up and the house decorated. As I pulled out the Christmas decorations, the tree, and all of the lights, I put on the holiday tunes and proceeded to “get into the holiday spirit”! (That doesn’t take much doing for me because I LOVE Christmas!) Fast forward two days and the house is done, the tree all sparkly and bright, candles aglow, and a few presents wrapped. I realize that my house is now ready, …prepared for the season.
Next item on the agenda-prepare my heart. Christmas is such a special, wonderfully sacred holiday for me and I never want to forget or even minimize its significance. For that reason, I think it a wonderful time to reach out to others and share the wonderful spirit of Christmas. But what to do? How can I make a difference? How can I afford to help others? What about the bills rolling in in January? How do I choose who to help and how?
I look at myself and the life I live and I think that I am what everyone would call an “ordinary” person. There is nothing”special” about me in the sense of wealth, power, influence, political position, etc. Can I make a difference to the world with my small “ordinary” gifts?
I want to tell you a story about ordinary…
In the weeks preceding Christmas in 1933 a very strange advertisement appeared in the Canton Repository, a small daily paper in Canton, Ohio. This ad offered small gifts to struggling families… “So they will be able to spend a merry and joyful Christmas. The writer pledges that their identity will never be revealed. Please write B. Virdot. General Delivery, Canton, Ohio.”
This was a time right in the midst of the Great Depression when many families had lost their jobs and their incomes. It was estimated that the rate of unemployment in Canton at this time was as high as 50%. All of Canton knew of Mr. Virdot’s offer but oddly enough, no one knew “Mr. B. Virdot” or who he was. The city registry of 105,00 people had no one with that name. Even though many wondered if this was actually a hoax or even if Mr. Virdot existed, within a week checks began to arrive at homes all over the area. All were small, about $5.00 and were signed by Mr. B. Virdot.
Who was this Mr. B. Virdot? For years, the story was told through out the city of Canton but the identity of the man was never discovered. However, in 2008, long after his death, a grandson opened a tattered black suitcase with the word “Memoirs” labeled on it that had belonged to his grandfather, Samuel J. Stone. Inside he discovered 150 letters and 150 cancelled checks all dated December, 1933…all addressed to Mr. B. Virdot. At first the grandson had no idea who Mr. B. Virdot was but after some thought, he realized that Mr. B. Virdot was an invention of his grandfather and was “an amalgam of his three daughters’ names: Barbara, Virginia and Dorothy.”
There was nothing “special” about Sam Stone. He was 15 when his parents emigrated from Romania and his early years were marred by lots of challenges. Even with his difficult childhood he never gave up. By the time the depression hit, he owned a few clothing stores and lived in relative comfort…but…he was neither affluent nor poor, but he was willing to lend a hand to make the lives of a few others a little better. He wasn’t special. He was an ordinary man in an ordinary town but he made a HUGE difference in the lives of those whom he touched.
This Christmas, we don’t have to be special to help others. We can be “ordinary” and do great things. Ordinary matters!
Make a difference!
A December 1933 letter from Mrs. R. De Hoff to the secret benefactor “B. Virdot” (Picture from CBS News.)
***The grandson, Ted Gup, wrote a book about his grandfather called, A Secret Gift.