It’s that time of the year again, when the jolly fat man in the red suit brings gifts and leaves the bills behind. I’d like to trade with him just once. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and what it really means, and over the years I have been taught some good lessons about life through the spirit of Christmas and giving.
The one memory that stands out the most is when my mother, who is a saint, taught us the true meaning of Christmas. Now I was about six when this happened and at the time I thought it was a dirty trick that she and Santa played on us kids. We were poor as a one-legged church mouse, but we thought we had everything we ever needed.
Every year we got to put the tree up usually 3 days before Christmas. Now this ole tree was manufactured by Reynolds Aluminum foil or by old used space suits from NASA.You know, the kind that looks like it was made by electric shock therapy. It had one of them lights that looked like a colored disco ball that shined all the colors of the rainbow. As kids we were proud to have it and my mother said it was an antique. By the time we got it all decorated it was a sure enough a bonified Christmas Tree. As for the presents under that shimmering box of aluminum foil- they showed up on Christmas Eve. And on that night the shaking would commence.
Each of the kids, Randy,Cindy, Dale and I got two presents each. We had asked for that special gift that would take your breath away. And we had shaken them enough to know which one of them was the Holy grail of all gifts and what we had waited for all year long. As expert shakers, us kids knew which boxes were packed with underwear and socks…you can pick those out a mile away. But I just knew that one of mine was a set of Paladin pearl handled pistols and the belt to match. Randy wanted a pair of spurs, Cindy new earrings and Dale just knew he was getting a Red Rider BB gun.
Well this particular Christmas Eve, right before supper, Mama hollered and said y’all come and let’s get ready to eat. About the time we got to the table she said these words that were sweeter than her chocolate pie,”Oh and on your way grab one of your presents and bring it with you.” Had my mother gave in and finally decided it was time to start a new tradition? Randy said she had finally gotten soft.
Of course we went and grabbed what we knew was the best present- no socks and underwear tonight it was time to party! We were just getting ready to shred the paper off like a tornado and I heard them words that cut clear to the bone. “Right after supper we are going to go down the road and give these presents to that family that doesn’t have as much as we do.”
Had the saint I mentioned before lost it? Had she slipped a cog? Had she been drinking the vanilla extract? Our mouths dropped open and silence took over, she couldn’t really mean it! But she did and we left right after supper. It was one the hardest things I had ever done at the time, to give my present to some feller I didn’t really know.
On Christmas day as we sat on the porch in our new socks and underwear, them youngins from down the road come walking by. One was twirling my pistols, one throwing Randy’s football, the other was carrying Dale’s Red Rider BB gun. It was very difficult to say Merry Christmas to them when they passed but we did. When they got out of sight Dale muttered, “I don’t mean nothing bad by it- but I hope that kid gets in trouble for shooting a widow out with my bb gun!”
That lesson took awhile to learn but it did sink in years later. There is always more under your tree than you need, and it doesn’t take presents to make a Merry Christmas. It just takes love and family.
So Shannon and I know that we have all the gifts we need and we didn’t even have to wait for Christmas to get them! We have Love, Family and Health. These are by far the greatest gifts you can receive.