Holland & Usry December 2017

How to Give a Smile uring my childhood, we had a pretty set Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve, we would go visit my mom’s family. There, we

Eve, since we were usually tired from the family get- together, so we always managed to wake up much earlier than they would’ve liked. As an adult, I revel in the joy of sleeping in on Christmas. As a kid, sleep was the last thing on my mind. Though it was decades ago, there is still one Christmas gift that sticks out in my mind. It was a combined present, given by my parents to my two brothers and me — a Nintendo, designed for us to share. I can’t remember our exact reaction, but I’m sure the energy levels were through the roof. In the ensuing days, it probably led to some arguments over passing the controller. Thankfully, one of my younger brothers was only two at the time, so I only had to share it with one brother. I haven’t played a game console in over 15 years, but I would be willing to bet that if I booted up “Super Mario Bros.” today, I would have no problem finding the warp zones. Man, we spent so much time playing that Nintendo, a gift I’ll never forget. This story serves to illustrate just how much effort my parents put into making sure we had a special Christmas. They always wanted us to end the day with huge smiles on our faces. It makes me think about the incredible work parents everywhere do to put the best possible gifts under the tree, only to cede the credit to Santa Claus. If you’re shopping for kids this December, know that one day, they’ll fully appreciate you braving the crowds at the mall, year after year. I’m guessing, as excited as we were to plug in that Nintendo, my parents were just as happy to give us a magical holiday. This joy of giving is what the holiday season is about. Whether you are buying presents for loved ones, donating to a worthy cause, or simply helping out someone in need, I want to remind you that a little gift can make a big difference. To everyone reading this, happy holidays and a merry Christmas! This year I hope you can make someone as happy as I was when we opened that Nintendo. –John Holland 864.582.0416


ate a big meal, spent the day with our relatives, and had a few laughs in anticipation of the big day. The day after Christmas, it was time for a trip up to Charleston to visit my dad’s relatives. My paternal grandmother’s birthday was Dec. 26, so it was the perfect day to go visit and round out the holiday. I truly cherished this routine because it allowed me to see all of our relatives during the holiday season, when family is on everyone’s mind. Looking back on it now, I realize just how fortunate we were.

Of course, we were as excited for Christmas itself as we were for the days surrounding it. I was the type of kid who had trouble waking up 364 days of the year — every morning except Christmas. I don’t think my parents needed to sneak any Nyquil into our cocoa on Christmas

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