A reluctant recognition

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Pelham High School Literary Magazine staffers bring children’s books to their Christmas staff party to donate each year. This year, the books were being added to the Pelham Police Department gifts that they help Santa gather annually.

The books were sorted, bagged and tagged with the ages of the children Santa and the police officers would visit. My 17-year-old son came along to deliver the books to the police station.

Santa prepares to deliver Christmas presents collected at the Pelham Police Department for kids in need. (Contributed)

Upon arrival, we found Santa loading up with the help of police officers and dispatchers. Pelham Police Department dispatcher Kim Crisp gave me names to put on Christmas tags. Tagging our bags of books to add to the stash of toys and goodies that Santa had for the kids, Kim told me then that the last little boy’s name was Maurice.

“Maurice! I know a children’s book about a little boy named Maurice,” I said.

“Do you remember the Maurice book?” I asked my son.

“Nope,” he said.

“You have to remember,” I said. “You did a project on that book in elementary school. You loved it. It was about a boy named Maurice who was trying to discover his talent. He visits with his family and neighbors searching for his talent.”

“Mom, that was 10 years ago,” Justin said.

I followed Kim upstairs to leave the books. “Some of the guys didn’t like that their helping Santa was in the paper last year,” Kim said. “They don’t help out for the recognition.”

“I understand,” I said. “If I can find a copy of the Maurice book before this evening, I’ll get it back to you.”

Once we left the station, my son said, “Mom, I think the name of that book was ‘Bravo Maurice.’” He was right. We discovered the book was out of print. We found the original book in my classroom — used last for a creative writing assignment. My son was willing to drive the book back to the police station so that Maurice could have “Bravo Maurice” for Christmas.

There are stories that need to be told because they allow us to see beyond uniforms and tough exteriors.

Pelham Police Department employees coming together to make the holidays better for folks who are struggling inspires and motivates even those who are 17 and cool. May this holiday season bring the gentle, helpful, childlike soul of each of us into the light.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.