Letters From Leton: The Best Christmas I Had As A Kid

As Forest Gump said, life is full of surprises.

Christmas was nearing. My hardworking father had been laid off at the mines and was trying to find whatever odd job he could just to literally keep the lights on.

The season of Christmas, which was always modest in terms of gifts anyways, was expected to be even less that year.

Yet as a child, the look and feel of the season – with snow, a cedar tree brought in and decorated, and the smell of my mom baking some simple sugar cookies – still brought a certain happiness and hope.

My father was a big influence in so many people’s lives. When there was a need, he was there. 

When someone was short a few dollars, he took whatever was in his pocket and passed it to them. Another family’s children not expecting Christmas, he put on his homemade Santa outfit and delivered toys he bought.

As a man who had fought in and survived World War II, his perspective on what mattered in life was clear and true. Before I knew of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and George Bailey, there was my father.

Unexpected to me and my sister, the week leading up to Christmas would become a Toy Fest. 

First was my great aunt. Gifts of building blocks and an animal book (paste the pictures) which I still have to this day. Only later did I learn that my dad would stop by her house on the way to work to clear her driveway of snow on a regular basis.

Next, gifts from Bethel Ministries. Used, but they looked good to me. Again, later I learned of the work my father did as a young man to help build what we call Camp Bethel in Wise.

And surprise, surprise – we had gifts from Santa under the tree. To this day I do not know what odd job he picked up to make that happen.

What a Christmas week for a six year old kid!

Each day we have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Never expecting anything in return, the gifts we give to others have such an impact. Unexpected. Surprising. Everlasting.

This Christmas I wish you and your family the very best and safest of Holidays, with encouragement that the gifts you give to strangers will stay with them (and you) forever.

Merry Christmas.

– Leton


“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.