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Do you know a ‘Bobby Decker’?

Publisher Emeritus Leon Leavitt Published on 10 December 2013

Five years ago, a dear friend who served with us on a church service mission in Chile shared with us what they did for their adult children for Christmas one year.

Instead of sending Christmas gifts, they decided to send a copy of “No Santa Claus?,” along with some money as an incentive, for them to take initiative and encourage their kids to appreciate the gift of giving.

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Jane and I decided to do the same thing with our six children last year. We appropriated some funds along with an invitation letter for them to find a “Bobby Decker” in their lives. ( to jump down and read a reprint of the story “No Santa Claus” which mentions the character Bobby Decker below.)

Their charity could be toward one person or many, an institution or project. It didn’t matter to us. We suggested they “think outside the box,” use their imagination and invite the Lord’s Spirit to guide them. We also joined in the assignment.

Below are their own reports of how the money benefited others.

• “Our family used the money to buy gas gift cards for four single moms who were going back to school. These ladies didn’t have a lot of money, and we were very impressed by how they were working hard to improve their situation by furthering their education.

Most of their classes were out of the valley and would require travel to get there. It felt wonderful to be able to help these ladies.”

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• “I donated mine to a Christmas Salvation Army station outside of a grocery store. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but when I walked by that seemed like a good idea.”

• “We did the 12 days of Christmas for two needy families.”

• “We contributed to a family who lost everything when hit by Hurricane Sandy.”

• “We used all of the funds, and then some, on random acts of kindness to complete strangers, as well as those we knew who were in need. For example, we paid for the next few people in the drive-in line behind us and sent gift cards in the mail with a note to ‘pay it forward.’”

• “I was touched by the tragic story of the death of one Martoiya Lang, a female Memphis police officer killed in the line of duty last December. She was a single mother. A fund was set up to help provide for her four daughters through the police officer’s union, so I contributed to that cause.”

• “We prepared food boxes (rice, sugar, flour, canned meat, cooking oil, oatmeal, beans, candy) for 22 needy families.”

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When all was said and done, this was one of the most memorable Christmas seasons we experienced as a family, even though we were all separate from one another by distance and time.

By seeking out the “Bobby Deckers” in our lives, we reconfirmed in our hearts the truth taught by the Master, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).

Our Heavenly Father gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to the world for the salvation of all Mankind. And to Him, we are ever grateful and celebrate this Christmas.

And now go forth, and find a Bobby Decker. PD

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Leon Leavitt
Publisher Emeritus
Progressive Publishing

No Santa Claus?

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I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid.

I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been.

I fled to her that day because I know she would be straight with me.

I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns.

I knew they were world-famous because Grandma said so. It had to be true. Grandma was home and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted.

“Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad! Now put on your coat and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me $10. That was a bundle in those days.

“Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.”

Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s. I was only 8 years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.

The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments, I just stood there, confused, clutching that $10 bill, wondering what to buy and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker.

He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade two class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter.

His mother always wrote a note telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough – he had no good coat.

I fingered the $10 bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat.

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. “Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly as I laid my $10 down.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons. A little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible. On a Christmas tag we wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus.” Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.

Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on the step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering beside Grandma in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside … $19.95 PD

Author unknown

Source: Betty Van Orden, The Twelve Days of Christmas: Ideas for a More Meaningful Holiday Season (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, Inc., 2007), pgs. 84-86. Used by permission of Cedar Fort, Inc.

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