Right now, somewhere in Encinitas, a child is writing out their list for Santa in all its crooked letter and phonetic spelling glory. They can’t wait until Christmas morning when they finally get to find out what Santa has brought them. A new doll, a video game, a bike, a skateboard or even a new stuffed animal or two. Older kids have their lists too. But the items are smaller, more compact and definitely more expensive. Cell phones, iPads, laptops, clothes and jewelry top their lists.
But what would we choose if we only had one more gift to receive? For adults, the list is complex and comprehensive. Fewer worries, world peace, a stable economy, lower gas prices, a new home, a happy family, a winning season for the Chargers. The list goes on. But for Dalton Dingus, his last wish is simple. He just wants a Christmas Card. 35,000 to be exact.
Dalton Dingus has cystic fibrosis. It is a genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. In a nutshell, a defective protein causes thick, sticky mucous to coat the linings of the organs resulting in life threatening lung infections and malnutrition. Whereas the average life expectancy of a person living with CF today is 37, Dalton is only 9 and does not have much longer to live. He was recently sent home on hospice care to spend his final days surrounded by his family. This holiday season, he is hoping to surround himself with all of you, as well.
Not just his Christmas wish, but his dying wish is to set the record for receiving the most Christmas Cards. The record is 35,000. Dalton is currently at 15,108. Actually that number should read 15,109. I just sent our family Christmas card to him late last week.
In today’s age of instant messaging and hectic schedules, I think Dalton has the right idea. The meaning of life isn’t how long you live, it is how you spend it and with whom. Dalton knows that in a few weeks or months when he takes his last labored breath, he won’t be able to take all the tangible “things” with him. Things like toys and skateboards, iPods, iPhones and/or the newest commercialized gadget. But he will be able to take the love that he shared during his short nine years on earth. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about.
This holiday season, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the greatest gift you can give another person doesn’t cost more than the price of a stamp and a few seconds of your time. This Christmas, wouldn’t it be amazing not only to help Dalton reach his goal, but double (or even triple) it.
If you are able please send a holiday card to Dalton: Dalton Dingus HC 62 Box 1249 Salyersville KY 41465. Please be sure to list your city and state so he can see how far his gift has come.
Somewhere in Kentucky right now, a little boy is tethered to an oxygen mask, sifting through a pile of Christmas cards. But if you look really close, you can see the smile on his face. Because at the tender age of 9, he has discovered the true meaning of life and the holiday spirit. It’s all about love.