Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Dec 27, 2010

A Housing Project Christmas

The sweet scent of evergreen from a tree that once lived in a forest somewhere far from the asphalt landscape of the projects.  A symbol of hope draped in shiny tinsel and wrapped in garland the color of spun gold.  Even though the decorations are all cheap and artificial, the sense of wonder a Christmas tree instills in the poorest of children is priceless. 
But when there isn’t any money for a Christmas tree or even a nice meal, there comes a crushing sense of abandonment.  A penniless family on Christmas Eve has nothing to believe in.  Faith in man or even God loses substance as the clock ticks toward Christmas day.  The unfairness of it all makes you doubt there’s someone out there watching over the least of humanity’s brethren. 
It was just like that one Christmas Eve when I was a child.  Dad didn’t make enough money from his job.  Mom said, “There isn’t going to be a Christmas tree this year.  There won’t be any presents, either.  You see, Santa forgot us.” 
 “But I’ve been good!” I told her.
“I know you have, baby,” she said as I sobbed in her arms.  Fortunately, Christmas magic works in unexpected ways.
You see, two of our housing project neighbors happened to stop   by.  “It’s not right,” remarked one of them.
“We went past the nursery an hour ago,” said the other, “There’s lots of left over trees just sitting there.  They’ll only go to waste.”
I cried myself to sleep that night.  While I was sleeping, the men conspired for my benefit.  They snuck into the nursery after it had closed and made off with one of the left over trees, which they hauled all the way back to the projects and delivered to our door.   When I awoke in the morning, to my delight the tree was in our living room, all decorated with silver and gold ornaments from the year before.
 My mother told the two of them that they should go to confession, because what they did was a sin.   But it would be a bigger sin to let it dry up and die, discarded in a pile of left over ones, with a little girl crying in the other room.  Besides, goodness was in their hearts and God is forgiving. 
We all shared the candy they brought by wrapped in gift paper.  And a happy housing project Christmas was had by all.

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