Dear Editor:

Having someone to blame, even if it has to be yourself, seems to be a part of explaining paths chosen. With the kind permission of the Mountain Messenger, the following is all due to Wal-Mart and their jumping forward over accustomed practices by beginning their massive Christmas season sales spectacular before we have even set the table for Thanksgiving. Realizing that if I was going to get the inexpensive cards before they were sold out, it would be a good idea shop now before delay forces me to go to the $2.50 each and financial disaster just to show I care enough to “send the very best,” which reminds me of a story (remember that phrase?).

During the 1950s, my mother and I lived in SE Washington, DC, not on the banks of the Anacostia River (but close) with our neighbors in between the likes of John Philip Sousa, J. Edgar Hoover and many other well known personages in Congressional Cemetery. Several blocks over was the District Jail (where they still performed executions) and the city hospital, now DC General and within walking distance of my high school. In those days before Brown vs. Board of Education, if race was not a factor, you went to the school in your neighborhood.

During one particular Christmas time, I had convinced my mother that the custom of a tree and all that was involved wasn’t really worth the effort considering moving the furniture, hanging bulbs and lights just took a lot of time which in hindsight, I was just plain lazy, although my mother made no protest at my pleading.

Several weeks later, as the Season got into full swing, television, downtown window displays, public transportation filled with people carrying arm loads of purchases, household windows with lights, you get the picture, I began to realize that I had made a mistake and had been only thinking of myself, One evening, as I sat brooding, my mother in the kitchen, there was a knock on the front door, when I opened it saw a very young fellow holding a Christmas tree asking “Would you like to buy a Christmas tree, one dollar?” What a question, of course. The miracle of Christmas, explaining to my mother that this last minute decision meant I would have to go to the nearby hardware and get a tree stand before getting into full swing with the lights, bulbs, garlands, my spirit had been rekindled. Lucky for me, they still had a few tree stands and returning, I noticed a police car and a officer taking some notes from a driver of a large flatbed truck parked by the cemetery. “I was taking this load of trees to the lot, got turned around, so I parked and looked for a telephone so I could get directions and when I came back the entire load was gone. It took me three hours to load and I wasn’t gone more than 20 minutes, beats anything I’ve ever seen. Wonder where they went ?”

Jack Ballard


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