The magic of Christmas 1986 brought respite from the misery of the everyday world for rich and poor alike.
From the streets of Burlington, Vt., to the Bowery in New York City, the Christmas spirit prevailed Thursday, bringing a message of hope and love.
For Michael Huddleston, it was a Christmas in unfamiliar surroundings--he was home.
The 15-month-old boy has been hospitalized for all but 16 days of his life with an underdeveloped respiratory system. But for three hours Christmas Day, he left the University of Massachusetts Hospital in Worcester and went home to his family at Ft. Devens Army Base, attached to a portable container of liquid oxygen.
Gifts From Sinatra
Singer Frank Sinatra--for the 10th straight year--sent a Christmas gift to a 62-year-old bedridden woman in Buffalo, N.Y. Eleanor Kopiasz, who is paralyzed, got 18 long-stem roses, a tub of poinsettias and a huge basket loaded with honey, dates, cheese, grapefruit, oranges, apples and jellies--accompanied by a card signed "Frank."
"I'm blessed," Kopiasz said.
Across the United States, thousands of volunteers turned out to serve traditional Christmas dinners to the homeless and the elderly.
Christmas spirit crossed religious lines in Boston, where 600 volunteers from the Jewish community filled in for regular volunteers at a shelter, allowing the Christians to spend the holiday at home with their families.
In Denver, the new $6-million Catholic Diocese Samaritan Shelter was jammed by more than 400 people, who were allowed to sleep in later than usual on Christmas Day, then were given a breakfast of coffee and doughnuts and a small Christmas package filled with toothpaste, shampoo and other necessities.
In Vermont, officials feared they would be unable to serve Christmas Eve dinner to the homeless because renovations were incomplete at the Burlington Emergency Center. But 100 people showed up to complete the work and dinner went on as scheduled.
Thursday morning, a box filled to the brim with socks, mittens, shirts and hats arrived unexpectedly at the Burlington shelter's door, all from an anonymous donor.
People opened their hearts and pocket books to help families in Chelsea, Mass., left homeless by the fire that killed three children this week. Officials report contributions are "just pouring in" for the families and children who survived Tuesday's fire.
Nor were those in jail forgotten.
Roman Catholic Bishop James Griffin celebrated a special Christmas Eve Mass for "the most forgotten of our brothers" at the Chillicothe Correctional Institute south of Columbus, Ohio.