But then, many years ago, I found myself traveling through very rural areas in China with some friends. One particular area was eye-opening to this Utah girl who had never been to a severely poverty-stricken place. Women were cooking their meals outside, over open flame. Bathrooms were makeshift sheds located several feet from tiny homes. Barefoot children, with dirt on their beautiful faces, were playing games in a dusty, unpaved street. When they saw our bus, they came running.
I was to learn that the Chinese children would follow my American friends and I everywhere we went. Some wanted pictures with us, some were curious and just wanted to look at us, others wanted any change we could spare. There was a common thread amongst them all--they wanted our "American" candy.
I would watch their faces light up--eyes sparkling like stars, mouths turning upwards to smiles--when I handed out my Starbursts! It was humbling. It was life changing.
There's something universal, binding, simple, innocent, and lovely about a sweet treat. No matter the language, no matter the culture, children respond joyfully to "sugary" acts of kindness.
The new book, "Christmas From Heaven," tells the true story of Lt. Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin candy bomber--a man who exhibited great love for the children of Germany by showering them with candy. Literally, as he (a young US Army Air Corp pilot) dropped parachuted candy from the sky while flying over Tempelhof Air base. He saw how they would gather at the fence of the air base--these young survivors of a war-torn land--and knew he had to do something for them. The idea to "bomb" Berlin with candy sprang forth, and as the press release states: "Lt. Halvorsen's small idea became a great symbol of hope not only to German children in a bombed-out city but to those who yearned for freedom."
The book is beautifully illustrated by Robert T. Barrett and includes actual photographs of Halvorsen. (I thought this added detail was wonderful!) The book also comes with a CD; the story being read by the incomparable Tom Brokaw.
If you would like to purchase this touching and emotional Christmas book, you can do so here: http://deseretbook.com/
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I hope you will remember to show genuine kindness this holiday season, as Lt. Gail Halvorsen did. I hope you will remember to see joy this month, as I did in those rural Chinese villages. And I hope you will remember that love matters and charity never fails.
The candy--albeit delicious--is not required!