By Richard Mabey Jr.
At 67, I am developing a greater appreciation for the people who touched my life, if even for a very short time, and then they were to exit my life, never to be seen again.
In the Winter of 1953, I was but a few months old, having been born in early September of that year. My dad and his brother, Edward, had started their own trucking company. Mabey Brothers Trucking had a terminal in Paterson. Regretfully, in Dad’s latter years, I never drove him to see his old terminal, to reminisce about his years as a young man, in business for himself. Something that now haunts me.
In 1953, we lived on Hazel Street in Clifton. Every Saturday, we would visit the old Mabey Homestead in Lincoln Park. There would be an afternoon feast of sorts. Mom once told me that aside from Great Grandma Mabey’s long dining room table, my great uncles would set up two more long folding tables to accommodate everyone. Mom told me that Great Grandma Mabey mostly served turkey, every Saturday, to feed the hungry congregation of the large, Mabey clan.
Mom often told me about how special Christmas Day was at the old Mabey Homestead. She told me that Christmas Day would see well over 50 relatives congregating at the old farmhouse that stood atop Mabey Lane. And there was something very, very special about Christmas Day at the old Mabey Homestead.
Naturally, the real Santa Claus was at the North Pole resting on Christmas Day, from delivering all the toys and games to all the boys and girls all over the globe. But, on Christmas Day, Santa had helpers to carry on his mission of bringing abundant joy to children. And, one of Santa’s best helpers lived in the neighborhood of the old Mabey Homestead.
This dear, kind, elderly gentleman would walk around the area of Route 202 from Mabey Lane to Clover Lane. He wore Santa’s outfit, as all of Santa’s helpers did. From my very first Christmas, in 1953, till the time I was about eight or nine years, this wonderfully kind man would come to the old Mabey Homestead, with a pillow case over his shoulder, bringing a little gift for myself and all of my cousins.
I remember as a little boy, Great Grandma Mabey would invite this kind gentleman to stay for the big Christmas feast, but he would always say that he had to deliver toys and games to the other children in the neighborhood.
The Christmas of 2018 was to be my Mom’s last Christmas Day upon this earth. And I remember that it was a day or two before Christmas, and Mom and I were talking about the kind gentleman who worked as Santa’s helper. Mom told me that she couldn’t remember his name and it was all kind of mysterious how he would come to the house and bring a little gift to myself and my cousins.
While we were talking, at our dining room table in our home in Florida, Mom said she never really knew whatever happened to the dear, old gentleman. But he stopped his Christmas visits when I was about eight or nine years old.
There are people who come into our lives, if even for brief moments, and they bring a most memorable joy to our hearts. It is almost as though the good Lord had paved the road for them to come into our lives. Most of the time, they have a very specific mission, a very unique purpose as to how they will touch the fibers and chambers of our hearts.
I will never know who this mysterious man was, who would visit the old Mabey Homestead on Christmas Day. My Great Grandma Mabey knew who he was and trusted him to come into her home and be a part of Christmas Day with the Mabey family.
After my Great Grandma Mabey went Home to be with the Lord, in 1959, Mom and Dad bought the old Mabey Homestead from Grandpa’s three sisters. And the tradition was passed onto my parents, to welcome this gentleman into our home on Christmas Day.
Now at 67, I wish there was a way to thank this generous, kind, elderly gentleman who brought joy and splendor to the Mabey family, throughout the 1950’s. In the greater picture of things, I know that the good Lord had inspired this man to think of others, with a most generous heart, on Christmas Day. And, now that I am becoming an elderly man myself, in prayer I thank the good Lord for the mysterious man, who unselfishly brought joy to the hearts of the entire Mabey clan, all them years ago.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.