FEATURE – St. George News invited members of the St. George Interfaith Council, who represent various denominations and faiths in the community, to share holiday messages with our readers to be posted throughout Christmas Day.
The following holiday message was submitted by Tom Lamb, director of Southern Utah Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My wife, Patsy and I have a rich heritage in Southern Utah. Patsy moved to the area from Canada as a child. I lived in California during my growing up years, but my parents were both from here and we visited our family during Christmas and summer holidays. At this time of year we reflect on the memories that we never forget. I’d like to share a favorite story from Patsy’s history that magnifies the true spirit of the season.
My mom passed away when I was 8 years old. I was blessed to have four older sisters who still mother me to this day, but my only real parent was Les Hansen, a carpenter by trade. I lived with my oldest sister and her husband, Thelma and Roland Hall, in Hurricane, Utah, until I was 16 and then Dad built us a little home only a few blocks away.
After graduating from high school and Dixie College, I went to work in Las Vegas and lived with another sister, Judie and her family. It was nice to have my own money and preparing for Christmas that year was fun. I put a new suit on lay a way for my dad at JC Penney and paid a little on it each pay day. When I drove to Hurricane on Christmas Eve, I was filled with excitement. Not only did I have his suit wrapped up, I had other surprises that I knew he needed.
I arrived home before Dad did. He was working in Alamo, Nevada, and I knew he would be late, so I had time to prepare the house, gifts and food for his arrival. It was after 9 p.m. when he finally shuffled in, exhausted from a hard days work and a long drive home. He took one look at the festive house and said, “I didn’t get you anything for Christmas. I was going to do it tonight, but I’m so late that the stores are closed and tomorrow is Christmas.”
Dad was well known for waiting until Christmas Eve to get the Christmas spirit, but this year it just didn’t work out. I told him that my friend Lou Graff had given me a miniature cedar chest jewelry box, because I had told him I wanted a cedar chest for Christmas, so I already got it and not to worry.
It seemed that I had just gone to sleep when I was being awakened at a very early hour. It was my dad shouting, “Wake up! Santa has come! Get up and see what Santa brought you!” I was 19 years old. This could not be happening. I got up, went into the living room and there sat a beautiful Lane Cedar Chest beside the Christmas tree and there was never a more excited Santa in all the world. I said, “How did you get this here, Santa?” He said, “Well, I woke up at 5 this morning and knew that you couldn’t have Christmas with nothing, so I called Dell Stout at home and asked him to open his store because I had nothing to give my daughter for Christmas and he told me he would get dressed and meet me down there. We walked through the door and there it was, the perfect one for you!”
This Christmas marks 50 years since that memory was embedded in my heart. My dad passed away just before Christmas 23 years ago. Dell Stout and Stout Home Furnishing are still with us. Even though I have moved 14 times since receiving that magical cedar chest, it too is still with us and is one of my most treasured possessions. Each time I see it, I am reminded of the role that Dell Stout played in our Christmas miracle.
Patsy and I have lived in the same home in Bloomington Hills for 33 years. The area doesn’t look the same. The population has exploded, but we find the same kindness now that we have always known in our beloved southern Utah.
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