In December of 1966, 1967 and 1968 at least one poor family in southeastern Pennsylvania had a good Christmas dinner. I can attest to that fact because I participated in the planning and purchasing for that dinner. My efforts contributed to a room-full of efforts. Those efforts comprised a part of a tradition. That tradition had been established by a teacher at Central Bucks High School, West, which was a school in Doylestown, PA.
In September of 1966 Mr. Fisher told the students in his homeroom that he made a habit of providing a Christmas dinner to a local poor family every December. He indicated that the students in his homeroom would be expected to contribute to the makings of that dinner. Not one student ever objected. Not one student ever suggested that maybe a Christmas party would be more fun.
Instead the students eagerly brought-in cans of yams, applesauce, cranberry sauce, green beans, potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, soup, gravy and juice. They filled the back of the homeroom with these canned goods. Then they added to those cans packages of stuffing mix, mashed potato mix, instant milk, cookie dough, and cornbread mix. They brought everything that one would need to make a Christmas dinner, everything except the turkey. Mr. Fisher purchased that himself.
Once all of the needed foodstuffs had been gathered together, then the students and their teacher proceeded to purchase the desired decorations. At this point Mr. Fisher sought-out those students who had a study hall during one of his own free periods. He would arrange for the students to get permission to leave the study hall and to help with the preparations for the Christmas dinner.
Mr. Fisher loved those afternoon trips into downtown Doylestown. He would play Christmas carols on the car radio as he drove the students past Mercer Museum. He might even sing along to the music as he drove the car and students past Doylestown Hospital, heading away from the Agricultural College and the Burpee Seed Farm. He must have realized what an important lesson he was teaching his students. He probably knew what they would learn by working on that Christmas dinner.
They learned much more than just what to consider when buying an artificial Christmas tree. They gathered information and experiences that they could have never obtained in the classroom. Those students sacrificed time that they could have spent studying or reading in order to help with that Christmas dinner. In the process they came to see the selfless nature of their homeroom teacher.
As Christmas approached Mr. Fisher's room contained not just food stuffs but paper plates, plastic utensils, paper napkins, tree decorations and various Christmas wreaths. Other students might want to use those same items to create one of those great Xmas parties. Mr. Fisher's students however did not. They had come to understand the true spirit of Christmas.
Perhaps each of those students recalls that experience now as they prepare for a Christmas dinner with the members of their family. Perhaps as they get older they have chosen to retell for children or grandchildren their experiences in Mr. Fisher's homeroom. It is a tale about a Christmas meal that they did not see, smell or taste, but one to which they made many contributions.