The Real Christmas Elves

Submitted by Kay Helbling


There are some folks who are the real oil that makes the holiday machinery run smoothly. These are the many family businesses across Oregon that are too small to hire staff to work around the clock, doing the work that allows you to carry on your season’s traditions. Their only option is for the mom and dad to take shifts 24/7 during the months of November and December. Even the sons and daughter’s have to put in their weekend and evening hours after finishing their homework. For these folks Christmas is not only about the importance of the season it is about making payrolls and breaking a profit after a long, hard year of effort.  


While we make plans to squeeze in our Christmas shopping after work, the owners of the small, corner retail shop have been working from the early hours till late into the night stocking shelves and balancing their cash registers.

We wrap, label and package our gifts, then  head down to the corner Mailboxes or UPS Store. Understanding the importance of Christmas deliveries are owners like Hank and Fran who work nonstop making sure your packages are ready for the “brown truck’s” pickup schedule.


We spend one afternoon bundling up the kids for the trek through the tree farm to pick out the perfect tree. Followed by an evening of Christmas tunes and cider while dad tries to get it to stand straight. Behind the scenes, the tree farmers have been working every daylight hour trimming and cutting and hauling, and the evenings planning work shifts and completing bookkeeping.


Greg and Marianne who have tree lots across the Metro area have not sat down to a real Christmas dinner in years. They spend Christmas Day closing out the lots that they’ve rented and catching up on long, lost sleep. But, through it all, they never lose sight of the real meaning of the season. They are sure to have someone cover their lots so they can make Sunday service. And, some of us even earn a free tree when we come onto their lot with a merry “Jesus is the reason for the season”.


Then, we can’t forget the 7/11 or Plaid Pantry corner grocers who are ready for the last minute carton of eggs, cream, or milk we need to make those cookies that Santa will be expecting. Or, the little café that is there with a smile and greeting of holiday cheer for those who would otherwise be eating alone.


When we are done for the week, small businesses across Oregon continue to work. To all of them, we say, “Merry Christmas” and thank you for making our season bright.


Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest with her best friend—her husband




































































































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