The East Allentown/ Rittersville Neighborhood
Association ran its first holiday lighting program of
certain community facilities in 1994-1995 and just finished its
20th th continuous run in 2013-2014.
Our idea was to place holiday decorations at the following city
of Allentown facilities: Irving Park, Keck Park, Canal Park, the
Jerome Street Islands, Kimmets Lock and the East Side
And also, invite students from neighboring Dieruff High School
and other schools to play an annual role in the set-up,
maintenance and take-down of the project
But In the end, we limited our project each year to putting up
holiday decorations at Irving Park And we are still looking for
student to come on board ...
|Next Meeting ; January 20, 2014
|The main character of our story, Jacob Holliday, was an
important man - a self made man, if you please - as he
was quick to relate to anyone if the chance came up in
conversation. It was not out of pride that
he said this, but rather to set the record straight so
that no one could ever question that his position
came from anything other than hard work.
He now owned and operated a large business that
employed many people. He was, if anything, a more
than fair man with his employees. He was vitally
interested in their welfare, and was proud of the
fact that he was able to call most employees by their
first names, and also could, in most cases, inquire
about their families with the complete assurance
that he could name their wives and most of their
I bring all these things to your attention so that you
will realize that, indeed, the subject of our story
was a compassionate man, far above average in his
dealings with people. The only luxury that our
friend allowed himself other than work was the time
he allotted to his service club. Not that he really
gave it that much time, because he really did not
have that much time to give. His efforts were
more inclined to be of a financial nature. After all,
he reasoned with himself that counted, too. Perhaps he
was correct. (Who is to say?)
As we join Mr. Holliday in this story, he is being
reminded by his secretary that tonight is the
meeting of his service club. Mr. Holliday was not too
pleased by this news because he was very busy andcould
not stand the slow deliberations that went on at these
meetings. Their slow plodding ways of doing things both
irritated and angered him.
At first, he decided not to go. Then he changed his
mind, mainly because he knew that tonight's meeting
would probably be short because this was the pre-
Christmas meeting when each person would pick a name
of a needy child from a box and then see thatthis child
would be furnished with some Christmas gifts.
It would probably have been a lot better for Mr.
Holliday if he would have stayed away from the
meeting that night, because there was going to be a
surprise in store for him that he would not
like at all. But he went to the meeting, never
realizing that, for him, it was going to be another
kind of Christmas, one that he had never experienced
"Good evening", said the President of the club. "As
you know, it is our custom to choose names from a
list of needy people. The officers have decided that
we would like it to be handled in another way this
year, and we are going to ask you to vote on it. We
are asking that when you draw your name, instead of just
furnishing a gift, we ask that you deliver the
gift yourself, to sort of give it a personal touch."
Mr. Holliday was on his feet at once, and as patiently as
he could, he explained to everyone that he, for one, did
not have the time for such nonsense.
A vote was taken on the question; and as it turned
out, Mr. Holliday was the only one that did not favor
the new idea. It was with a lot of resentment that he
picked his name.
The name of the child he drew was Jason Lang, 1226
Wood Street. Mr. Holliday well knew that this was one of
the most depressing parts of the city, and he resolved to
himself that under no circumstances would he visit this
Jason Lang. He would get him a gift as he done in the
years past, and have itdelivered. No one would ever know.
If they did find out, so what! After all, he was one of the
largest donors to the club, and no one would dare
He went home, prepared himself for bed, but he
could not sleep. He tossed and turned, and tossed
and turned some more. In the morning, he resolved
that he might go to visit the boy after all because he
knew he had given his word that he would go along
with the majority of the club. This is what he must do.
The early morning's light found him in front of 1226
Wood Street. The rundown house was neither any
better nor any worse than it's neighbors. It was some
misgivings that he rang a bell.
After some moments, a woman answered the door. It was
plain to see from her appearance that, at one
time, she must have been a beautiful woman, but the lines
of care and sorrow had etched deep lines into her face
and dulled her beauty.
Mr. Holliday explained why he was there, and the
thought that her son would be receiving a present
Mr. Holliday asked if he could see the boy and the
mother said of course he could, but first of all, she
must explain something about her son.
"You see, Sir", she said, "My son is suffering from a
malignant brain tumor. He really does not have too
long to live. His Dad deserted us several years ago.
You can see why there is no real Christmas spirit in
"May I see the boy?" asked Mr. Holliday.
Mrs. Lang ushered him into a bright, cheerful room.
In the corner of this room in order to catch all the
rays of the sun lay Jason. It was evident to look at
him that he was indeed sick.
His eyes were a feverish bright color. His
complexion had a shallow, waxy character to it, and
the boy himself was pathetically thin.
"Here is someone to see you", said Mrs. Lang. Jason's
eyes lit up with joy and he greeted his visitor with a
"Jason", said Mr. Holliday, "I'm here to ask you what
you want or need for Christmas. You can have
anything you want."
"Can I really have anything I want? Asked Jason
"Name it and you can have it, my boy. I'm a man of my
word", said Mr. Holliday.
"All right, then", said Jason, " I want you to be my
father for Christmas."
"Wait just a second," said Mr. Holliday. "I can't be
your father. I wouldn't know how to be a father.
Besides, that is something you cannot demand from
someone. I must go. When you decide what you want,
your Mother can call me."
It was easy for Mr. Holliday to stay busy for the next
few days because by nature, he was a busy person.
But, busy as he was, there was one thought that he
could not erase from his mind. That was Jason and
the foolish idea he had.
"I won't go! I won't go, do you hear!" He shouted out
loud as he slammed his fist on the desk. His poor
secretary was so startled that she dropped the
papers she had in her hand.
"Is there anything wrong, Mr. Holliday?"
"No, nothing at all," he said. "At least, nothing you
can help me with."
Just then, the phone rang. "It's for you", said his
secretary. It's a Mrs. Lang for you and she says it is
"Mr. Holliday, I know that you won't do what my son
asks, and perhaps I don't blame you, but could you
come over if only for a minute. He is very bad, and
the doctor seems to think that he won't last out the
day. Please come! I'm begging you as a mother!"
Mr. Holliday forgot about his busy day ahead. He
forgot that he said he wouldn't go. The only thing he
knew was that, for some reason, he had to get there.
Mrs. Lang was crying when she opened the door for him.
He hurried into the boy's room. The boy saw him at once -
just as though he was expecting him - just as though he
knew for sure that he would come.
They sat there for a long time just making small talk
and getting to know each other.
As the afternoon wore on, the boy seemed to become less
aware of things going on around him.
There was a sudden terrible spasm that seemed to
shake the boy's body. His eyes opened wide and they
seemed filled with pain.
The boy smiled weakly, and his trembling hand
motioned Mr. Holliday to come closer. As he did, the boy
raised himself, put his arms around Mr
Holliday's neck, and placed a kiss on Mr. Holliday’s
cheek - just a delicate brush, much like a butterfly
brushing a precious petal of a flower.
"I love you, Dad", said the boy, and then, suddenly,
the words gushed out of him - the words mixed with
tears that he had not shed for years - " I love you too,
Son", he said.
In the twinkling of an eye, the boy was gone into a
land where there was no more pain, but only peace
Mr. Holliday cried for a long while that day, and for
many days afterward. He was a sadder man, for he
learned a Christmas secret - it is easy to give of your
finances and even of your time, but the real secret is when
you give of yourself out of love - for then the magic doors
are opened for you.
|Editor's Note --- Dennis L. Pearson read this Yule
Tide message at the Official Lighting of the 4th
Annual East Allentown / Rittersville Neighborhood
Association Light Display in 1997 . Kenneth W.
Haas died in 1993