We are often told to remember the real meaning of Christmas at holiday celebrations and are subjected to countless stories of Christian virtue. Cut on your TV and youâ€™ll find a message on the Hallmark channel, or see a rerun of the Christmas Carol. The message seeks to counter the idea of gift-giving, shopping and partying, focusing instead on the importance of character and helping the less fortunate.
We have a lot going on in our community with those kinds of messages, some appearing in stories in this newspaper. There was the Volunteer of the Year story on David Keever, the long-time Lincoln pharmacists forced into retirement after an accident who found a new value in life when he began volunteering his services at Helping Hands Clinic. Everybody at Helping Hands knew he would receive the award.
It was saddening to hear about the recent death of Joe Hill of Lincolnton, whose life story was documented in the book â€œA Place for Joeâ€ by Charlotte Observer journalists Elizabeth Leland. A retarded, black teen who had no place to go after his aunt died, Joe was taken in by the Marvin Leatherman family, for whom his aunt had worked for years as a maid, and later the Leathermanâ€™s daughterâ€™s (Reid) family. This was all about an act of kindness, but it was also somewhat religious in that the Leathermans had promised â€œGod will take care of Joeâ€ if anything happened to his aunt.
The Family YMCA of Lincoln County annual prayer breakfast on the day before Thanksgiving was a celebration of faith, with many expressions of support for Christian beliefs. Former UNC basketball star Bobby Jones provided his own unique message of Christian values to an audience of more than 300.
We could go on and on. The names of the many contributors to The Christian Ministryâ€™s Christmas fund have been appearing in our paper regularly. And we learn each day of organizations that are donating to the cause, such as: the Leads Group of the Lincolnton/ Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, which donated enough money for two bicycles: the DECCA Chapter of the Lincoln School of Technology, whose members conducted a scavenger hunt for food items; and local scouts who participated in the annual Scouting for Food project.
So, if you want to know the real meaning of Christmas, hang out in Lincoln County for awhile.