Read the current Progressive Forage digital edition

Tales of a Hay Hauler: ’Tis the season

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 28 November 2017

“Put it on your Christmas list” may be one of the directives least liked by kids, followed closely by “Put it on your birthday list.” Too often, both birthdays and Christmas degrade into comparisons of who got the most loot. This is never good.

The traditional Christmas story centers on the birth of Jesus Christ. The New Testament tells of simple shepherds being summoned by angels to the stable where the birth had occurred. At a later date, individuals referred to as the Magi, sometimes the three wise men, came and presented valuable gifts.

From this presentation of gifts to a young child, from whom the givers had no visible means of recouping the cost of the gifts, somehow sprang the tradition of giving gifts to one another at the Christmas season.

The greater meaning is: The young child grew and gave all mankind that which they would never be able to attain by themselves without His atonement.

Thus, it would seem that to remember and relish this greatest of all gifts, ought we not to do differently than see the gifts we “give” are of equal or greater value than what we receive from others? Sounds closer to a business deal than the heartfelt giving of a gift.

“What did you give?” becomes a more appropriate question during the traditional season of gift-giving than “What did you get?”

If the giving of gifts is in remembrance of He who gave us the greatest gift, why is it that we, in December only, scurry about seeking (after dealing with extravagances for our family members and close friends) to seek some unfortunate person to assist? Does not the struggling widow need an unexpected turkey or ham in May or August as much as in December?

Read closely the biblical admonition about judging others. It doesn’t say, “Don’t judge” but, rather, “Be careful how you judge others.” My experience has been those who most need the help seldom ask. It takes a judgment call to identify those in need as opposed to professional panhandlers.

Some years back, traveling on the freeway through eastern Oregon, we came across a car stopped on the shoulder with one person holding a sign that read, “Broke down, need help.” The car had several occupants, and I did not get any “gut” feeling it was even safe to stop.

About 10 miles farther, I came across one of Oregon’s finest parked in the median. I flashed my headlights at him and pulled over. He pulled in behind me, and I informed him of the “motorist in distress.”

He said, “Are they still there? An hour ago, they did not want any help from us. I guess I’ll get some backup and go see what’s going on.”

Years before that, I made a parts run into Moses Lake, Washington, trying to make it to town before the parts store closed. I noticed an older pickup on the shoulder of the road going the opposite direction. My “gut” feeling was they needed help. After I got the parts I needed and headed home, they were still there. It was a young family moving, the mother helping her daughter and, seemingly, brand-new husband move.

They had a flat tire. They had no jack. They did have a spare tire. The wheel on the offending flat tire was held on by one “wheel-lock” type of lug nut, in addition to four standard lug nuts. They did not have the “key” for the locking nut. In 10 minutes, I had them on their way.

There are times when some encouragement and a kind word are what is most needed. There are times when words can be life-saving.

Years back in the Middleton, Idaho, area, a young man lost his life late at night in a traffic accident. He was the oldest of a large family and had been driving the family’s only serviceable car. In the midst of the community surrounding this family at their time of grief, no one noticed the station wagon the family had retired (because the engine was defunct) had disappeared.

A few days later, it reappeared, sporting a freshly overhauled engine. All the inquiries made attempting to find the donors came up empty. This is the spirit of giving, doing for those in need that which they cannot do for themselves and letting the donor remain anonymous.

When asked “What did you give?” may I suggest the best answer will be, “I can’t tell you because if I tell anyone, then the receiver of my gift may come to know its source, and then it will no longer be a gift, but a public display.”

Is it time to see others all year just as we do the week before Christmas? Then, perhaps, Christmas Day will be a day of remembrance as to why we are aware of the circumstances of those around us. Then the real Christmas season will begin for us, as it should, on the 26th of December each year.  end mark