Random acts of Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011
Managing editor MURRAY BISHOFF

When we talk about extending Christmas wishes or even Christmas spirit, we do it from a sense of abundance. Those who have share with those who perhaps have less. Or those who have little share what they have. The reward comes in the act of giving.

In this day of a Social Security safety net and a community known for its caring, it's easy to forget that the holidays can represent the very edge for some.

As little as 70 years ago, Monett saw one of those experiences. The J.W. Gordon family had come to the area to pick strawberries and never really got a good foothold. The family of 10 moved into a partially burned home about 10 miles to the south. The father was able to get work building Camp Crowder but the family car was too dilapidated to get him there reliably and he lost the job.

The Gordons' oldest son, George, 18, tried working but couldn't keep up. One day he couldn't make the two-mile walk home carrying the groceries. He became weak and nauseous. His stomach hurt too much to eat and within days he died. The determination was he had given his food to his siblings for so long that he over-extended his resilience and ultimately perished from starvation.

George died the week after Thanksgiving, 1941.

Times publisher Menzo Hainline pleaded with Monettans to reach out to the family. They did. Within days, food, clothing, supplies and money from mostly small gifts were assembled. The family was moved to Monett, the father's job was saved and they had a fresh start.

The death of George Gordon represents an extreme situation. Then and now, Monettans do not tolerate such conditions. Thus today's food back pack and Community Kitchen programs developed.

Yet less dreadful situations exist around us. You may know of someone living alone, someone who may not be getting along so well. It doesn't take a community organization to justify random acts of kindness. Nor does it often require a big investment.

Linn Thornton's employer has said Thornton is a pleasure to work around because he believes in Christmas year around. What would life be like if more people felt the same way?

This Christmas, let little acts of random kindness open doors for you.