Every year, I swear I'm going to do something to put the purpose back into Christmas.
I am going to take jackets to the homeless, help serve meals at the shelter or see to it that some family doesn't have to do without, especially if there are children.
I am by no means a Scrooge. I do nice things for people, yet I come away feeling as if I bought into the commercialism again, believing there was so much I could have done without and so much more I could have done for others.
This year, I was determined to search until I could find a way to make a difference in someone else's world, and thereby, my own.
I didn't have to look far. All I had to do was call home and listen, really listen, to the story I have heard for more than 20 years.
In 1985, Al and Wanda Palmer, along with their friends Frank and Pat Rocha, gave a small Christmas party to a few of the children in Golden Valley. The next year, their gift of giving began its contagious journey into the hearts of others, and these first couples were joined by a few more.
Soon they were able to give not just gifts, but baskets of food and even Christmas trees. They would take maps of the valley and divide them up, then assign one section to each truck.
Up and down the roads they would travel, looking for homes that appeared to be in need of Christmas cheer. They had no lists, no specific addresses; they just went looking for anyone they could share the gift of hope and community with.
Through the years, more people, businesses, clubs and organizations, such as Pistoleros and Roses and the Landowners Association, have become part of this amazing effort of selflessness, until today they are providing Christmas gifts and fun to an average of 200 children in Golden Valley.
This year, I was a part of this great gift of love. I was there to watch the faces of more than 100 children light up as they were given gifts and stockings overfilled with candy and toys.
I listened as they laughed at the clowns who were making poodles and flowers from balloons for their heads, or painting dreams across their little faces.
I watched them all take their turn at the craft tables, where they created their own versions of Christmas, and then hurried off to gobble up the free hotdogs, cookies and drinks from the kitchen. All of it had been donated by kind, loving people whose only concern was that the children of Golden Valley smile at Christmas.
I came away this year with a newfound respect for people who share this busy, fast-paced work with me.
I saw what could happen when others stop their world long enough to try and make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
I came away with something more, something only I could come away with - my brother and sister. I came away with a newfound respect, a new sense of pride in the two people I call Mom and Dad. You see, Wanda and Al Palmer are my parents.
I cannot say I am surprised at the hearts that work tirelessly year after year. I have watched it most of my life, but I can say that I love them now more than ever.
I am endlessly indebted to them and to each of you who gave so amazingly of themselves, both in the open and behind the scenes to ensure happiness for your neighbors.
Parents and children of Golden Valley, you are truly blessed to be part of such a community. Make it your goal this year to find any of these people and let them know that the hours and hours of fundraising, planning, building and preparing did not go unnoticed.
Let them know that what they do makes a difference for you and yours. You do this and you put the smile they gave you back on their faces.
Imagine: If all of this began in the hearts of four people, what wonderful things could be done with four more, or 40, or ...?
Bob and Teri Jordan
Apple Valley, Calif