Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

December 15, 2013

An unlikely band of Santa’s helpers

ASHLAND — I don’t recall exactly when it started but I know I was in college.

We were having Christmas Eve dinner when a man came by to bring my dad a decanter of Christmas cheer.

As he turned to leave, he asked if I had plans for the night. I was leaving early on Christmas Day on a fishing trip to Florida with friends but my evening was free.

The visitor said one of his companions had been called out to work and that he needed someone to be his driver.

Thus began my involvement in a holiday ritual that lasted for several years.

I think about it each Christmas and it motivates me to help others as I remember that true charity comes from the heart.

This man and a close friend had started becoming Santa’s helpers on Christmas Eve.

They took turns wearing a Santa suit and delivering gifts to small children of their friends and also to kids in a poor neighborhood.

They enjoyed holiday beverages as the night progressed. It usually wasn’t long before I was drafted to wear the costume while they sat in the car, singing Christmas songs.

The usual starting place was the backroom of a country store where a friendly storekeeper and his friends had a holiday songfest.

I vividly recall two one-armed musicians playing the same guitar. One picked the strings and the other fingered the frets on the neck of the instrument. It didn’t sound too bad, as I remember.

Some parents would meet us in front of their homes with presents they wanted their kids to have that night.

Getting a gift on Christmas Eve was a common practice in our little town.

As the night wore on, I began to notice that our happy band of Santa’s helpers also stopped at homes of more modest means.

Magically, Christmas treats would appear to the delight of little kids. Some parents would be emotional about seeing the joy of Christmas in their humble homes. So was I.

It was the second Christmas before I figured out the origin of the treats and surprise presents.

This good man and his sidekick collected money and chipped in themselves each year to make sure the poor kids had Christmas.

I was asked to never speak of what was done by whom but I decided the story needed to be told.

As for the trip to Florida after my first Santa mission, my pals said I woke up on the outskirts of Chattanooga.

KEITH KAPPES is publisher of The Morehead News, Olive Hill Times and Grayson Journal-Enquirer. Reach him at kkappes@cnhi.com

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Uncovering forgotten treasures

    You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.
     

    April 14, 2014

  • Political stories worth retelling

    With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.
     

    April 13, 2014

  • 0413timbizcolweb.jpg Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14

    It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips

    In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is.
     

    April 12, 2014

  • Feeling happy is ...

    Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.
     

    April 10, 2014

  • 0410markcol.jpg Mark Maynard: Brick House (South Ashland Florist) brings in $13K so far: 04/10/14

    Here’s a 14-name salute coming your way:

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cannon: Take this joint, please: 04/09/14

    Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.

    April 8, 2014

  • AARON SNYDER: March Madness, sadness for Cats

    It’s just another game. That’s the message John Calipari preached profusely throughout the 2014 NCAA tournament. It’s typical coachspeak, but Cal’s young Kentucky team clung to the step-by-step approach to produce atypical results.

    April 8, 2014

  • Sweet thoughts on the season

    So far, I’ve been a good girl. Or a pretty good girl anyway. See, I have this thing for Reese’s peanut butter eggs. Homemade peanut butter eggs? Eh. I can take ‘em or leave ‘em.
     

    April 7, 2014

  • What happened to safety of childhood?

    In the years before air conditioning, we slept soundly and safely with the screen door often unlatched.

    April 6, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
SEC Zone