Life With Ferris: Make A True Difference This Christmas

  • Monday, December 5, 2022
  • Ferris Robinson
Ashley Williams selecting a child from the Salvation Army
Ashley Williams selecting a child from the Salvation Army

Many towns have exceptional mayors with excellent vision that benefits their communities. Several neighborhoods in my neck of the woods have their own unofficial mayors, including the folks on Bartram Road. 

I moved to this neighborhood just over five years ago, and although I had several months to unpack and organize and get my new home in order, it was still unsettled by Christmas. A few days before this holiday, I opened my mailbox and found a beautiful scented candle from one of my lovely neighbors. The next day there was a bottle of wine from the family a few houses down, and the next a box of chocolate candy from someone else!

I called my friend Hazel up the street, a bit befuddled.

“Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you everyone in the neighborhood exchanges gifts,” she said. That information would have been useful in October.

I was in a state. These were all very thoughtful and appropriate holiday presents and I didn’t have time to figure out what sort of gift to buy and go somewhere to shop for them and then, worst of all for me, gift wrap them. Seriously, the words “gift wrap” are right up there with “tax time” and connotes jumping through all sorts of hurdles and locating all sorts of papers, be it tissue or receipts, and making something somehow presentable -  always a challenge.

I can’t remember what pitiful gifts I came up with that first year, and I hope my wonderful neighbors have forgotten what undesirable and poorly wrapped object appeared in their mailboxes in 2017.

Back to our mayor. Ashley Williams is the mayor of the Bartram neighborhood. She just shrugs and smiles at her introduction as mayor. But she’s the one who started gathering the neighbors over food and drink, giving an occasion for folks who previously only nodded and waved to actually visit and get to know each other face-to-face. The closeness that followed that first gathering continues, with welcome parties for new neighbors and farewell parties for those who move – though not many do!

A few years ago, Mayor Williams reached out to all of these lovely, caring neighbors and asked if they might be interested in sponsoring a couple folks through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program in lieu of exchanging gifts. She made sure we all understood the Angel Tree took the place of gift giving, and was not in addition to. We all agreed wholeheartedly! The Bartram text thread immediately combusted with a slew of resounding YES! emojies.

And so for the fourth year, Bartram neighbors made a true difference in some folks’ Christmas. Coats, pants, sweatshirts, toys, roller skates, board games all will be under a couple of trees. Thanks to the vision of our thoughtful leader, Christmas will be brighter for a few children, and a lot easier for lots of households on Lookout.

For the Angel Tree, applications are taken at the Salvation Army for children ages birth through 12 and senior adults age 60 and above. Go to csarmy.org for more information.

* * *

Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series. “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com and you can download a free pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.


Ferris Robinson
Ferris Robinson
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