CHARLOTTE, NC, December 18, 2016 – In the hustle and bustle of our daily routines, we often hear cries of despair about the holiday season and the commercialization of Christmas. Every now and then however, something unexpected happens that reminds us of the true spirit of the holiday and the joy it can bring to others.
Years ago, when television was still in its infancy, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, NC had a homemaker who was a forerunner to Martha Stewart. Her name was Betty Feezor, and she did a live daily half-hour television show every weekday from 1954 until 1977.
For 24-years Betty’s program featured recipes, crafts, sewing, household tips and everything in between. WBTV states that Feezor’s show was the first in the world to be video-recorded in color beginning in 1958.
Betty Feezor’s show went off the air in 1977 after she learned she had cancer. She died in 1978.
The program that filled the void, though it was an hour in length, required a dozen people to do what Betty did by herself.
Like so many other things in her life that inspired her viewers, when Betty learned of her battle she said, “Some people ask, ‘Why me’ and I ask ‘Why not me.’”
Feezor’s faith was strong and her courage was as meaningful as it was uplifting.
I think of Betty Feezor’s words often these days as I fight my daily battle with ALS. They have encouraged me to share a letter I received recently that was completely unexpected, but one which truly reflects the spirit of this Christmas season.
The letter was written by a local attorney and his sister who I knew as children in Rock Hill, SC when I was in my second year of professional baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Following are portions of that letter for which I was truly grateful to receive:
“We grew up in Rock Hill, S.C. in the early 1960s when Rock Hill had a single A baseball team. We would sometimes come to the park to watch batting practice or the team practice. We recall that Sparky Anderson was the manager and Steve Carlton was the ace pitcher for one half of the season (14-1 as I recall).
“One day while we were at your practice, you walked over and introduced yourself to us. You can certainly understand our interest in you. But we still to this day do not understand your interest in us.
“You invited us back to practice and batting practice and introduced us to other players and let us take part for a few minutes of practice. I remember standing at the plate and being pitched to by you or your teammates.
“I recall that you even arranged for us to ‘batboy’ for a game, although at ages 60 and 63, our memories may not be perfect. I think you also wrote us a letter once and signed a baseball for us (‘Peabody’ Taylor) which we cherished until we probably ran out of baseballs in our sandlot games and decided to use it.
“But our favorite memory was the time before a game where you told us confidentially that you were going to drag bunt the first pitch of the game. You did and we felt like the most important kids in the world.
“Our recollection of the details is not perfect. However, our recollection of the impact that you had on the lives of two small children is as powerful today as it was 50 or so years ago. You taught us the importance of taking the time to be kind to others and the difference it can make in the lives others. We have tried to ‘pay it forward’ the lessons that we learned from you at such an impressionable age. And often times when we do, we think of you and the powerful influence that you were in our lives.
“Thank you for taking a few moments to teach us that a simple act of kindness can go a long way. We will always ‘pay it forward’ in your honor.”
Just as I was influenced by the likes of Betty Feezor and Sparky Anderson and others, I, too, was blessed to make some small difference in someone’s life. In that sense, though I never realized my dream of playing in the major leagues or reaching Cooperstown like Sparky Anderson or the Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame like Betty Feezor, when I received that letter, I considered my baseball career a success.
You see Christmas may only come once a year, but its spirit can, indeed, become something to emulate throughout the year.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod