A message from our Executive Director John D. Apostle.
In my childhood years growing up in Greece, church and food were more important than what kind of gift we gave or received. We would go to every home and sing Christmas Carols. Relatives, neighbors and even people in distant communities showed their kindness and appreciation by giving us money or sweets. For us who had come from humble backgrounds, those days were amazing. We could buy clothes, shoes, or toys with the money on New Year’s Eve, the day that we were traditionally visited by Saint Basil, our own version of Santa Claus.
In 1967, I was 10 years old, and I got up early enough to cover a larger region, thus getting a lot of money which I had planned to buy things for my parents, my three sisters, and a leather soccer ball – a small luxury for myself that I had been dreaming about. Quite frankly, I even had a little extra to show my respect and gratitude for my grandparents by purchasing something memorable for them to be proud of me, their first grandson.
Just before I returned home, I stopped at a kiosk to get some American gum, every little boy’s treat, and I heard one lady from our neighborhood talking on the payphone pleading with the local grocery store owner to extend her credit so she could buy food for her family. Her husband was sick. Her son was serving in the army, and we all knew that she had no other relatives in town.
Emerson wrote, “Men are what their mothers made them to be.” My mother raised me to be caring and loving. She taught me that the whole world is one large family, and we are all God’s children. Never did I think that what I was about to sacrifice would have been meaningless. Discreetly, I ran to her house, and I placed my bag of money in front of her entrance door. Then I hid behind the trunk of a cypress tree, and when she picked it up and started crying tears of joy and relief, I walked home with the most gratifying feeling I ever had in my short life. Truly, this exemplifies the true meaning of the season and I am grateful I learned it early in my life.