Originally published in The Star on November 19, 2009. Reprinted with Permission
by Mike Funston, Staff Reporter
Don Celsie fondly remembers the candy that came in the Star Santa Claus Fund gift boxes he received as a child growing up in North York during the Depression when his 10-member family was “on relief.”
“There was no money to buy sweets, so we never got any,” said Celsie, now 77 and living in the retirement community of Big Cedar Estates near Orillia.
So it was a great treat when the gift boxes arrived with clothing, toys and especially the candy that he’d hide so his older siblings wouldn’t go after it. Celsie was the youngest in the family.
“I’d take out a couple of candies every day and have them on the way to school to make them last longer,” he said.
This Christmas, through 60 affiliated agencies, the fund will distribute some 45,000 gift boxes to children throughout the GTA thanks to donations from Star readers.
Celsie played music with a country band all his adult life and still does some gigs in the Orillia area.
In 2007, he decided to write a song about his Santa Claus Fund experience that was featured on the Star’s website. He received many emails as well as personal compliments on the song and decided to pay a singer-guitarist to record it on a CD at a Nashville studio, as a gift to the Star.
“It sounds a lot better. It’s my hope it can be used to promote the fund,” Celsie said.
Here’s an excerpt:
I’m sitting here thinking of Christmas gone by
When I was a young lad, my brothers and I
The family was poor, or so I’ve been told
Just having each other was worth more than gold …
I remember that Star box that we used to get
With sweater and toque and those peanut-thumb mitts
The toys and the crayons were great, I’ll agree
But that little white box was like heaven to me
For those that don’t know, I can say what a treat
Cause we never had chocolates or sweet things to eat.