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Shumate column: Kids say the darndest things

Art Linkletter died in May of last year. He was 97 years old. There was always a special place in his heart for precious little children. This fact was most apparent when he conversed and quizzed boys and girls on his television program ěKids Say the Darndest Thingsî some years ago. If you were having a bad day, all you had to do was watch one of these episodes, and immediately your spirits would be lifted. The warm, innocent and unprompted responses from these kids were not only amusing but also gratifying to the soul. Please allow me to share with you some ěchildî moments from my past.
When my brother Tom was a toddler, he was adorably sweet and plump. Being the youngest of five, he was doted on and somewhat spoiled, especially by me. Our mother assigned each of us daily chores. Tom would always try to get excused from his by whimpering and proclaiming, ěI canít, Mama. Iím too fat.î
My daughter, Tracy, begged and cried for me to buy her a lunchbox with a ěthermostatî in it when she was in the second grade. Later, when she was older, her health class was studying a chapter on personal hygiene. One morning, while readying for the day and behind schedule, I asked her to dial the Time and Temperature phone number. She immediately retorted with, ěI canít, Mom!î
ěWhy not? I impatiently asked.
ěWell, because I havenít brushed my teeth yet, and they might hear my breath.î
Another time, she was all excited about Christmas approaching and our annual family get-together. She wanted to help with the gift wrapping and swore to me that she wouldnít tell of any of the contents. On Christmas morning, she couldnít wait to help hand out gifts. She proudly marched up to my brother Stan, plopped a pretty package in his lap, smiled largely and announced, ěI hope you like your blanket, Uncle Stan.î
Once in conversation with a retired teacherís assistant, she told me of monitoring the lunch period one day for first and second graders. She noted a little boy not eating but quietly sobbing. She put her arm around him and asked what was wrong. He looked up at her with big blue, teary eyes and answered, ěI canít eat without my ëpusher.í I dropped it on the floor.î After a brief but thorough investigation, the little boy was given another biscuit and all was well.
Every year the Post publishes a special insert of ěLetters to Santa.î I love to read these heart-warming original thoughts and requests from local schoolchildren. One year I was especially impressed with a letter from a young man who only wanted a shovel and some ěgirlî chickens. He had asked for chickens the previous year also but received ěboyî chickens and they just wouldnít lay any eggs.
Now for some ěchildishî adult stories. My sister, Paula, had a college classmate at Northwestern in the 1970s who was quite obese and was trying to lose weight. She purchased a box of Ayds, a popular diet product of that time that resembled chewy candy squares. The directions included chewing one with a hot beverage to help control the appetite. After a few weeks, the girl told Paula she couldnít understand why she hadnít lost any weight but had instead gained a few pounds. She added, ěThose darn things tasted so good I just couldnít stop myself. I ate the whole box at one time.î
While a young girl in the late 1950s I pleasantly remember summer Saturday evenings in my neighborhood. Some Salvation Army members would visit on the street corner across from our house. They provided great music followed by a mini-sermon. They did their best to deliver Godís word to all who would listen. The father of one of my friends, whom I will call ěFelix,î was a hard-working, devoted family man during the week but liked to have a few drinks on Saturdays. He was never rowdy or mean, just humble and silly sweet. One Saturday evening upon return to his home after a street service, his wife asked him, ěFelix, how much money did you put in the collection plate?î
ěI gave them a twenty,î he sheepishly replied. (Please note: In those days, that was a hefty amount.)
ěWell, you just march right back up there and get 10 dollarsí change!î
Iíve said all this to say this ó God provides us with humor and uplifting moments every day, through persons of all ages, to help us deal with sadness and despair, encouraging our continued belief in the presence of goodness in mankind. Please remember this holiday season to share your blessings with others as much as you possibly can. Tell the receiver of your gifts to ěkeep the changeî and you will be richly blessed for it!
Margaret Schumate lives in Salisbury.

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