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Tis the season for joy

By By Janet Little Cooper
Here it is 12 days before Christmas and I have already had what is shaping up to be one of the best Christmases in my life.
For the first time in my adult life, my 18 Christmas trees did not make it up in my home until this weekend. Normally, my decorations are up the day after Thanksgiving.
The reasoning behind my delay is that we used all of my Christmas trees to decorate our Winter Wonderland float for the Twilight Christmas Parade last weekend and my job here at the newspaper leaves little time for anything else other than news.
It was worth it though. We had a great time on our float. The excitement in the children's eyes was priceless and the waves and well wishes from everyone else was truly a great beginning of the Christmas season.
Then the following morning I was so blessed to be a part of the American Legion Women's Auxiliary's Breakfast with Santa. Talking with the young mother whose husband is in Iraq for a year-long tour, and her two daughters really put things in perspective for me. Just when we think we have it bad, we really don't. I know for myself that I am covered in blessings, some which may go unnoticed, but covered just the same.
This weekend again was packed with Christmas activities that would have inspired even the hardest of hearts and scrooge's in the area.
Atmore fireman Daniel White and DeeDra Kelley, owner of Joey's Furniture took to the rooftop of Freds in their second-annual Rooftop toy drive. Braving the frigid temperatures at a much higher elevation with a steady freezing wind speaks volumes of the local firefighters union and ADRT for taking the time and making the effort to collect toys for children who may not otherwise have anything under their tree this year.
At the same time the firefighters union and ADRT were working to help others, the L.A. Bikers Motorcycle Club was holding their sixth annual L.A. Biker's Toys for Tots Drive.
More than 50 bikers from across the southeast joined at David's Catfish in temperatures dipping in the 20's to make a special delivery to three different locations.
I met the group, being escorted by an Atmore police officer and a special guest, Santa Clause, at Bratt Elementary with a trailer loaded down with toys and goodies.
The trailer, a long flat bed, was being pulled by a pickup truck and was covered in a tarpaulin. It truly looked liked Santa's sleigh.
As the bikers all gathered around the trailer, gift after gift was taken off bicycles and even a basketball goal. The gifts just kept coming. It was enough to supply an army! But at this stop it was all for six special children for whatever reason had been chosen by the bikers to be the recipients of their love.
Their journey continued to Atmore City Hall where again they unloaded box after box of presents for six more children. At this point the cold temperatures didn't seem to be bothering anyone. All was good. Eyes welled up with tears as the young children rummaged through each bag, stopping here and there to jump up and down or squeal with delight when they realized that they had gotten just what they wished for..
The co-ed bikers ended their gift-giving spree at Perdido Elementary School where one recipient of a new bicycle dropped everything for the chance to take his new bike out on a quick spin. He gladly brought his bike to a screeching halt in front of the bikers receiving cheers from them.
When the bikers who rode in a double line with an officer escort at front and back, hopped on their bikes to leave Perdido, this same young boy sat on his bike watching them. He was impressed with the combined sounds of so many bikes. He told me that it was 'All good' and that he was so excited because not only was it Christmas but he would be celebrating his 13th birthday the 18th. As the bikers headed off to eat lunch together, this young boy sat atop his new bike with both his hands in the air giving the bikers a thumb up. Such a moment is all these gracious bikers were looking for.
Each one I spoke with said, 'It's all about the children.'
What a blessing these riders were to so many people Saturday. Myself included, it was a blessing to be a part of this event even if I wasn't riding with them. Which by the way, I did have several offers to join the ride at Bratt, but I told them that I would follow along in my car. I was just able to put my crutches down last week and I didn't want to chance anything else happening with me this year!
You may remember that last Christmas I landed in the hospital for five days with a blockage from kidney stones. My 'major medical' came a little earlier this year with my knee and although as tempting as it was, I didn't figure a motorcycle was the best place for me! Not now anyway.
If you are having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit, take some time to look around you, there is so much more to Christmas than the gift giving. Let what you see around you speak to your heart more than to your eyes. There really is reason to have a joyous spirit.