Many Christmases ago, I was privileged to meet and write about a man who represented the spirit of Christmas better than anyone I had ever known. I was a rookie freelance writer on my first assignment for the Saturday Evening Post.
He was a 47-year-old tool crib attendant for the International Harvester Company named Joe Swedie. He had come to the attention of Post editors because he brought so much joy and light into the dark world of sick and disabled children. Perfect, we all agreed, for a Christmas issue.
And so we set up plans for me to join him when he made his hospital rounds on Christmas Eve. But the weather didn't cooperate. It was 5 below zero and the roads were a glaze of ice when Joe arrived at my home in a Chicago suburb, driving a battered 1940 sedan with a back seat full of movie projection equipment. When I questioned the wisdom of taking off in this rig, and my family looked on dubiously, Joe said he hadn't missed showing his weekly movie at this hospital for eight years.