In keeping with a Daily Messenger tradition, we are presenting in these final days before Christmas a series of editorials that have become classics of a sort in the holiday season. This piece was published in the Daily Messenger in 1968.


Dave opened a dreamy eye. He looked to the window to see whether another day was starting. It was still dark. It was still night. He wondered why he was awake. Then he knew. He was cold.

He hunched his knees close to his chin. He folded his arms around them. It helped a little, but his back was still cold. Dave's pajamas had little warmth left. They had been flannel when his oldest brother first wore them, fresh from a church rummage sale. But that was two brothers ago, anil now they were so thin they didn't help much. Dave huddled. The thin blankets didn't help much, either.

He could hear his three brothers in his room breathing the breath of sleep. He hoped he would go to sleep again and not know he was cold. But he didn't, so he rolled from one side to another, hoping that way he'd keep his back warm.

Dave is six.

He lay in the cold and the dark. Hs thought about things in school. He thought about the pictures of an old guy named Santa Claus, and he wished he would stop at his cold little house. Dave thought about his friend Charlie, where Santa Claus had been making regular stops every Christmas as long as Charlie could remember. He wished that he had a father, like Charlie, but he didn't. He wished he could see more of his mother, but she was never home when he arrived home from school. He knew why. She had to work, so there would be money for the soup for supper and the other things they had to have to keep alive.

Dave couldn't remember much about his father. He had a vague vision of a strong man who used to swing him toward the ceiling when he was a tiny boy, and then a sad man in bed all the time, and then of a time when everybody was crying and he never saw the man again. He knew, because he had been told, that the strong man who became the sad man and then wasn't there any more, was his father.

Dave thought morning ought to be along soon. He hoped it wouldn't snow. Snow was fun for playing, but seeped through his shoes and made his feet wet and cold. He wished he could have some kind of overshoes, like the other kids in his class, but he didn't. So he hoped it wouldn't snow.

Dave wondered about Christmas. Everybody seemed to be talking about it, and about Santa Claus. There was a lot of talk about what people wanted for Christmas, but Dave didn't understand much about that. What he wanted mostly was to be warm, and Christmas seemed to come when he was cold.

Dave guessed he wanted something else, too. He wanted to see his mother smile. He thought she was beautiful when she smiled, but he hadn't seen her smile in a long, long time. He guessed it was because she was always tired, and because she was always worried.

Dave thought about Christmas, and he hoped he wouldn't be cold and he wouldn't be hungry and his mother would smile, and maybe he would somehow get a toy.

Maybe you can't believe it, or maybe you don't want to, but there are a number of Daves living right here in Ontario County. It's not a nice thought, is it? But it's true. As you hurry around, making sure that Christmas is bountiful for your family, stop for a moment and look around you. You won't have to search far to find a Dave ... or a Susan or a Jim or a Jane. They're all here, if we will but see them.