The part of giving that always comes with Christmas came early to Mount Olive last week.
It surfaced right in the face of what could have been a disaster at the worst time of the year.
It was a midday fire that did enough damage to a handful of downtown district businesses, but it could have been worse.
The spirit of giving always surfaces quickly when there is an obvious need.
On scene there were local personnel and firefighters, and equipment from four other departments in Wayne County and five others in Duplin County.
It is appropriately called “mutual aid.”
A better – and seasonal – term is helping one another in a time of need.
Veteran Mount Olive Fire Department Chief Greg Wiggins recognized it all as it unfolded.
He said there were at least 80 firefighters and other emergency personnel on the scene.
When it was all needed the most, the gift of caring, helping, encouraging and giving surfaced.
Residents joined in the fight by providing drinking water and food to the firefighters, and other emergency personnel as they worked tirelessly to bring under control the Southeast Center Street fire.
It was a time of giving and receiving, a time of thanking one another, and perhaps most important of all, it was a time of making 2021 early Christmas memories.
It has not been a good year for anyone, and for those who lost property due to the downtown district fire, it will most likely be remembered as one of their worst.
Still, with the worst of adversity, moments of good things and good intent are remembered.
It is the way it is done in “small town” America.
It is a trait planted and cultivated by our ancestors.
It may have fizzled and faded into cyber space in the big cities, but small towns are still proud of their heritage and carry on old traditions.
Several years ago, the fire that destroyed the old Kraft Studios building on James Street was also an event when local residents worked through the bitter cold of that winter night to provide food and hot beverages to the firefighters.
Those carrying the flag may fall, but in small towns there will always be someone to step up and keep it from hitting the ground.
Giving is the most precious of gifts at Christmas.
All of us received that gift of the tiny hand of Jesus when he was given to us at Christmas many years ago.
Precious memories and Merry Christmas to all.
William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.