Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: Looking for Christmas stories

December 20, 2013 

So I'm trying to write a story for Christmas Day, and I've been asking people for ideas.

Writing a Christmas story is harder than you think. Actually, the writing is the easy part -- it's finding the story in the first place that's tough.

My first Christmas story in Columbus was about the bread pudding recipe at the now-defunct Spano's restaurant, and whether the cook who created it shared it with other employees or kept it a secret and took it to his grave.

Nobody really knows.

About six years ago, I found my favorite story while I was sitting in church. Harry Westcott, a longtime engineer for the city of Columbus, was giving his testimony and recounted the incredible story of how he was adopted by a department-store Santa Claus.

It's the type of story people read aloud before sitting down to Christmas dinner. Maybe they even hold hands while listening, like they're circled in prayer.

You don't find a story like Harry's every day.

So I started asking around. I went to Facebook and I posted an inquiry, and then I read a bunch of other posts.

There was a sick child that people were trying to help.

And people struggling with the loss of a loved one.

And people battling cancer.

And somebody donating bone marrow to save another person's life.

They were interesting, touching stories but they were also kind of depressing.

Then I got a message from a friend from college who I last saw in Germany more than 20 years ago.

Maybe this would be something different, and maybe even something happy.

Well, it was different.

My friend, Lagenia Clark, is living in Texas now, and her son, a 12-year-old named Jared, completed the 70.3-mile Oilman Texas Half-Ironman in just over 8 hours. He was the youngest of 700 competitors and reportedly only the second child his age ever to finish

a race that long.

That's pretty incredible.

But Jared was running for his twin brother Justin and his younger sister Lexi, who this year were both diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disease called Giant Axonal Neuropathy.

Scientists hired by a nonprofit organization called Hannah's Hope Fund have found a potential cure and hope to start human clinical trials early next year.

Jared was running to raise money for this cause.

"We have had a rough year," his mother, Lagenia, wrote me in an email.

Apparently, a lot of other people have had a rough year too, based on the Christmas story suggestions I've been getting.

But maybe the true spirit of Christmas isn't about acting cheery if your circumstances warrant it. Maybe it's about the journey to find peace and hope in the midst of hardship and suffering.

That's what my friend and her family did. Instead of whining, they went out and did something to change things -- and in the process they inspired others.

That's what a good Christmas story does.

Contact Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com

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