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Guess What Moment I Think About, When I Drop Money Into The Pot.

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Guess What Moment I Think About, When I Drop Money Into The Pot.

It was such a pleasant Wednesday evening, that night in December of 1958. Daddy had just gotten home from a revival somewhere and we were so happy to see him. We lived in National City, California and had been attending the church pastored by Bro. Leamon Reynolds. Daddy was an Evangelist and we had based out of National City since June.

I was in the 9th grade. I was old enough to understand that money was hard to come by and that we had none, to speak of. We had just come through a period of time where there had been very little food in the house for the last several months. For a month, or so, we’d had nothing to eat but pinto beans. We had eaten the beans without salt or seasoning, because there wasn’t any. Mother’s gift of imagination was contagious as we all acted like we were eating fried chicken or corn on the cob while eating the beans. We learned to laugh about it too.

Tonight was extra nice though, because Daddy had made it home. He’d been gone for a month or so. Tonight was Christmas Eve. There were no decorations to be seen. There was no tree. We’d never had a Christmas tree. We never missed not having one either. There were no presents on display. Our gifts were family, shelter, and enough food to keep body and soul together. All was well with the world, for us.

All of our clothes and shoes were from the Goodwill or some Thrift store. My shoes especially looked like Goodwill shoes. I had on old men’s shoes. Other guys my age wore ‘White Bucks’ or some cool looking ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. I wasn’t cool and I was OK with that. My Mom and Dad were doing the best for us children and we knew it. Most of all, we knew we were deeply loved. Our parents often did without food, so all of us children could eat. I noticed that, and it made it hard for me to eat very much.

We all sat in the living room talking. My two youngest sisters were not much more than toddlers. They were so happy to see him they crawled all over Daddy’s lap while he sat on the couch with Mama.

Mama always treated Daddy like a King. He always treated her like a Queen. We laughed while Daddy held her in his arms and sang a song to her, made popular by the McGuire Sisters. “Sugartime.”



Sugar in the morning
Sugar in the evening
Sugar at suppertime
Be my little sugar
And love me all the time

Honey in the morning
Honey in the evening
Honey at suppertime
So by my little honey
And love me all the time

Put your arms around me
And swear by stars above
You’ll be mine forever
In a heaven of love

Sugar in the morning
Sugar in the evening
Sugar at suppertime
Be my little sugar
And love me all the time

A knock on our door interrupted the moment. Mom and Dad looked at each. We weren’t expecting company. This was Christmas Eve. Everyone should be home tonight. This was special family time for most people.

All my family joined in behind me as I opened the door. Standing there were faces I had never seen. Six of them stood there, dressed in neatly pressed Salvation Army uniforms. They all smiled. In unison, they said, “Merry Christmas”

They each held armloads of sacks and packages. They said they were for us. They came into the house and began laying sacks of groceries on the counter on the table and on the floor. They brought in so many sacks of groceries, that my mother cried.

Then they brought in presents and clothes for all of us children. They had our names written on all of the presents. I never did find out how they knew our names. We never told them.

My sisters each got a doll and some doll clothes, among other gifts. I got a bat, a baseball glove and a baseball. I also got a toy model to put together.

Somehow, someone had guessed the approximate clothes sizes for each of us. My sisters got dresses, skirts and blouses. I got jeans and shirts. We all got shoes and coats.

The Salvation Army people stood grinning, as they looked at our faces. They smiled at my mothers’ tears. All of us children sincerely thanked them. My Dad and Mom thanked each one of them too.

So, today, when I walk into a store and see a red Salvation Army kettle hanging on a tripod with a bell-ringer standing behind it, guess what moment in time my mind goes back to? Guess what I am thinking about as I drop some money into the pot?

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 5, 2011 at 1:01 am

Posted in Treasured Memories

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