• 63°

Brinkley remembers ‘Santa’s workshop’

Editor’s note: The Suffolk News-Herald is sharing Christmas memories of local people throughout the holiday season to promote the Cheer Fund, which collects donations to purchase toys for local children on Christmas.

Christmas gatherings for LaTroy Brinkley were large family affairs when he was young.

The owner and stylist of Serendipity Hair Salon grew up in Suffolk, and he remembers the entire family gathering at his grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve and spending the night.

Christmas morning seemed like a magical time, he recalled.

“When you walked into the living room, it was like Santa’s workshop,” he said. “There were bikes, basketball goals, train sets … it was full of toys.”

Brinkley said the children in the family always received treats like nuts, apples and oranges, and especially the Christmas candy mix specifically from Holland’s Produce, along with the toys.

At times when the family struggled, the adults in the family still made sure that it didn’t affect the children’s Christmas.

“We didn’t have a lot, but our family made it a lot,” he said. “When one didn’t have it, the others would pick up the slack.”

Brinkley, 41, who is on the Suffolk Salvation Army board, noted that his family’s efforts mirrored the Cheer Fund, in a way.

“In essence, I guess that’s what the Cheer Fund is about,” he said.

He remembered getting a Nintendo as a child, which he joked was “the best thing since sliced bread.” His most memorable gift, however, came when he was 8 years old. It was a computer, purchased at Radio Shack, that included a book with a list of commands that had to be typed in to make the computer perform certain functions.

His grandmother has since gotten older and has dementia, but she made Brinkley promise to carry on the traditions of the family. He has enjoyed doing that with his own children, ages 19, 18 and 11. They also enjoy making gingerbread houses.

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439, or bring it to our office, 130 S. Saratoga St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit the Suffolk Cheer Fund on Facebook to find an online giving link.

We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like. Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your photo as you hand it to one of our staff.

For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 934-9609.