When I heard this story about Home Depot and the first Christmas of a 14 year-old young lady, I thought it was a very moving Christmas story. My difficulty in writing it came from trying to decide where to begin. Because it actually begins with 60 year-old grandmother of this 14 year-old girl, when the grandmother was seven years old.

The story begins back in the early sixties when I was living in Reno, Nevada on base at Stead AFB. A man delivering dry-cleaning stopped by to pick up laundry, with two small children in the truck.

The story he told me was how he had kidnapped his own daughter and son from their mother, who had escaped from Castro’s Communist regime in Cuba and was living in Los Angeles, and planned on returning to Cuba, taking the children with her. To avoid this he had left, hiding with the children in Reno, keeping them in his truck while he worked delivering laundry.

I suggested he leave them with me while he delivered on the base and I would feed them lunch. The girl was seven years old and that began a lifelong relationship with her. From that point she and her 4 year old brother stayed with me often, became like surrogate family members, and followed me and my family to Tennessee and ultimately to Georgia.

The father was extremely domineering, and adept at hiding, kept them with himself and home-schooled. I in essence became a party to his scheme, because I did not want the children returned to Castro’s Cuba, therefore no matter where we lived, they spent time with me and my family.

Growing up the father ridiculed participation in Christmas. Early on in her marriage this girl joined a religious cultist-type religion which did not allow celebrating Christmas, therefore her child was denied any Christmas celebration, and so was the granddaughter, whose father belonged to the same religious sect.

Fast forward to today, she is living in north Georgia with her husband and daughter, who is divorced from her child’s father. The father had obtained custody and moved away, hence began a lengthy battle to regain custody, which only occurred recently.

A year or so ago my friend and her husband left the religious sect after realizing it was not for them, and decided to reject it. She notified them she would no longer be considered a member. Which upped the ante of effort to regain custody of their granddaughter and release her from the father and the religious organization. Upon return to the mother’s and grandparents’ influence, they began a de-programming effort, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, decided to celebrate Christmas.

In this connection I wrote her a lengthy letter about the joy of Christmas celebration. I urged her to get a tree, decorate, buy gifts, have music, and begin setting up her own personal traditions for the 14 year old to enjoy and have in her memory growing up.

She went to Home Depot to purchase a tree and a lovely employee listened to the story. When told that she needed help in selecting a tree for a special Christmas, because it would be the first one ever for this 14-year-old, the Home Depot lady said to come back the next day and bring the granddaughter.

They returned to the Home Depot last Saturday and that lady presented the family with the gift of a beautiful six foot tall Fraser fir tree, along with a card signed by all the store employees and a bag of wrapped Christmas gifts for the granddaughter! She said everyone at the store was so happy that the little girl is back with her mother and free to enjoy the holidays for the first time in her life.

My friend called me Sunday morning, excited and quite moved by the extraordinary gesture of giving by Home Depot and their employees, and so happy over the prospect of decorating this Christmas tree for her granddaughter. Her husband joined in the new-found joy of the magic of Christmas, and plans on going the whole nine yards of celebration for Christmas Day, and the magic of this wonderful holiday season.

Because this nation was founded upon Christian Principles, and Christmas is celebrated each year by families and children who enjoy the magic of it, it’s an unusual story about a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter, who have been denied this experience until now, because of upbringing and religious beliefs opposing recognition and celebration of it.

Release from this indoctrination, and the new found Freedom to celebrate, is a joy to behold! And the topping on the tree is symbolic of the generosity of the free-enterprising capitalistic system this nation was founded upon. The generosity of Home Depot defies the notion that capitalism is a greedy, uncaring system. Those who create and produce are caring and sharing, and left to their own devices, this country does not need a political government to take and re-distribute. The free-enterprising system steps up to the plate to provide for the needs of the people.

And it’s never so glaringly apparent as revealed in the voluntary action and caring of Home Depot!! Definitely a story that touches one’s heart and soul and defies the notion we are a “greedy, uncaring nation of people.” It’s a story that should go viral, it is so inspirational.

Just me AC

email: annecleveland@bellsouth.net

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