Clemson’s “Silver Packages”


Dear Reader:

It is time to bring the wonderful Clemson football season to a close…yesterday I carefully packed up all the magazines, lucky tokens, newspaper clippings, tiger rags and other Clemson shirts/caps, scarves, and carefully packed them away until football season rolls around again next fall.

I thought long and hard about the appropriate closure for this magical season and a thought suddenly appeared….this had been the season of the “silver packages.”

Of all the stories I have told at the Christmas Eve service this one has always touched many a heart with tears to accompany. It is a powerful story in the lesson of recognizing the difference between needs and wants.

In a nutshell…a little boy growing up in dire poverty of the Appalachian mountains wants a doctor’s kit for Christmas more than anything else in the world. A special train comes around and drops silver packages off each December 23rd for the children to take home so they will have something to open Christmas morning.

Instead of getting a doctor’s kit….over the years he gets gloves, socks, scarves, jackets….all things he really needs but didn’t want….he wanted a doctor’s kit but never got it.

After he grows up…he leaves the poverty of those mountains he was born into and pursues a successful career… thinking he has managed to put the memories of those sad, disappointing childhood Christmases behind him.

But one Christmas Eve he finds himself remembering those childhood Christmases again from the top of tall skyscraper, living in a large city, residing in a penthouse that he now calls home.

Suddenly he sees the past more clearly. Each year when he got the socks, shoes, jackets, or scarves for Christmas he needed them desperately at that moment….because his socks, shoes, holey jackets, and scarves were worn and torn. He had been given exactly what he needed at the time he needed it.

So he finds himself returning to his home, the place of poverty that he thought once he would never  return to again. And he finds himself besides the train tracks on December 23rd watching an elderly man throw silver packages out from the train to the anxious children waiting for their one gift. Memories begin to engulf him.

Suddenly a little girl, with red curly hair, starts running behind the track to catch her gift when she falls…busting up her knees and tearing her stockings. As she sits on the rails crying because her package has fallen into the snow over the embankment….she suddenly sees a nice gentleman pick up her package and bring it to her.

He puts her on his lap and reassures her not to be afraid…everything will be okay and then introduces himself as a doctor while he reaches for his medical bag. He was home again.


imagesIn a sense Clemson, too, kept running after and hoping for their silver package…their dream of a national title…their doctor’s kit. In each game leading up to the perfect season and an opportunity to play for a national championship, they were given  exactly what they needed to win over their opponent in the individual games…

So by Monday night….everyone wanted  this national title so badly…it was certainly justified…after all it had been a long time since Clemson had won one…surely they had earned the right to take home such a trophy…to take home a doctor’s kit.

It didn’t play out the way all of us had hoped… or did it? We have to step back from the initial disappointment, like the boy in the story, to pause and look at the game a little differently. As much as we all wanted a national title…what we needed was respect for the ACC and particularly (this past season) for Clemson’s amazing achievements.

Monday night Clemson proved that it was a major contender at a national level and could more than hold its own with the “Big Boys.” (They really were big, weren’t they?) Clemson needed this as much, or more, than a trophy saying they were the best.

They were the best and won many hearts over in their valiant attempt to put up more numbers than their opponent…numbers aside, they got what they needed. Earlier dismissive attitudes towards Clemson began to slowly change…its football program took a leap of faith this year and ended up being recognized as the best in the country in the hearts and minds of (just not those who love them but by…) coaches across the country.

Example: As Jo quoted in her comment: As one reporter said, “We truly had two national champions playing tonight.” 


Thanks Ernie Stender (a former student) for this picture you posted on Facebook. Perfect visual to end the article today!

Love conquers all….We love you Coach Dabo and our extraordinary Clemson Tigers! Faith, hope, and love…it was the winning combination!

So until tomorrow…We must remember that sometimes the world doesn’t have to be turned upside down in order for us to see the underlying truth in the amazing arena of football…character wins out over wins/losses and Clemson has character…a class act!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

47496_424087657062_5749568_n*Dana Howard, Sam and Donna’ daughter, now lives in Clemson after growing up being the daughter of a coach in the football town of Summerville. So she has an unique perspective on this special season….especially how it changed the little town of Clemson she now calls home. Here is an excerpt:

…”  I don’t think I’ve ever felt more love for football or for my adopted town than I do right this very minute. Because for right now it doesn’t matter when you got on the bandwagon. It doesn’t matter if your degree says Clemson or Carolina or if you even have one at all. It doesn’t matter whether you know a first down from a flag. It doesn’t matter if you usually pull for a Bulldog or a Gamecock. Right now what matters is that we’re having a turn & this little town is alive.

It’s like there’s a direct line of energy running from Phoenix straight to the center of College Avenue & it’s sending out a buzz everywhere–from the bank to the check out line at Publix. Everyone is happy & anxious & excited &… Well, it’s kinda like Christmas was when we were little. It’s just fun.

And I’m grateful for the folks sharing their journeys & I’m even thankful for the folks who usually cheer & dance during 2001:A Space Odyssey, but are being reserved enough to let us celebrate & enjoy the experience. I write a lot on Facebook because I’m not a journal keeper.

I’m not a scrapbooker, but this is a medium I can connect to. And I want to document this moment of pure joy. Because that’s what we’re living smack dab in the middle of–a heart full of joy for the Clemson Tigers.”

  • CYjXoO3UEAA7-BsIf you blinked twice thinking you saw Dabo on Entertainment Tonight…you weren’t seeing things. Nancy O’Dell stayed in Arizona to interview more of the players and Coach Dabo. Nancy even got the coach to hum  the theme song for ET as it went off the air….too funny.  I think Dabo could use some light-hearted banter after the heart-break of the game and his dreams for this season ending put on hold..
  • Please keep Winnie Harris, Mike Burrell’s mother, in your prayers as she undergoes a surgical procedure today. Mike and Honey are home and will be with her during this time.

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Clemson’s “Silver Packages”

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    Always loved the silver packages story. Great analogy for Clemson this year! Always loved that special young lady, Dana, too. I didn’t realize that Clemson was her home now. Her article on the town of Clemson brought a whole different view of this wonderful season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky Dingle says:

      Dana is a gift writer and an ardent lover of her special hometown and the Clemson Tigers. She, her husband, and adorable son, little Sam, eat, drink, and sleep Clemson. A beautiful family!


  2. Johnny Johnson says:

    I can tell you that Clemson got what they wanted for sure! There isn’t a single person that will ever be able to say that Clemson didn’t belong in the title game. Clemson earned the respect the team deserved and they got it and they got it from one of the best all time college coaches, Nick Saban. Clemson also earned respect from the Alabama players as well. Clemson did us proud here in South Carolina, they showed the entire Country that they could play football with any team. If not for a couple of plays that went badly, Clemson could have won the game. Even though Clemson lost, they gained so much for the school, conference, and the State. Beauty of it all is the majority of the team players will be back next season and hopefully that will bring them back to the big stage again. I can hardly wait to see their return!

    Liked by 1 person

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