Christmas takes you back.

Me and Leon and David Mark would fight over who got to carry the ax. And we fought over which tree we thought was “the perfect one.” Then we’d fight over who got to chop it down. And we fought one more time over who got to drag it “first” as we headed for home.

You’d think that was a lot of fighting….Leon called it brotherly love.

That tree never looked quite as good when we presented it to Mother for her approval as it did when we spied it over in Mr. Archie’s back forty. Mom never rejected one. She would brag on us for finding the exact right tree! As she was picking out the “thin side” to turn toward the wall she would ask why David’s cheeks were so red……

Leon quickly blamed it on that Jack Frost guy nipping at us as we trudged back up the Como Road.

Decorating the tree was mostly strings of popcorn and silver tensile. We did have a few ornaments and two strings of lights that bubbled when they got hot. We had a worn out angel that listed to the northeast to go on top. Mom hid the bad side but she couldn’t do much about the open spaces where we didn’t have enough decorations to fill in…..

To this very day, it is the most gorgeous Christmas tree that I have ever seen!

We might not have had chestnuts roasting over an open fire or two turtle doves fluttering about or a door bell that rang out, “FA LA LA LA LA, LA, LA, LA, LA….. And we certainly weren’t watching “The Nutcracker” on a TV we didn’t have. But, I’m telling you with all my heart, we had something in our house that money can’t buy.

Christmas takes you back.

Me and Leon and David Mark would stand for endless hours in front of Mr. Hall’s Western Auto window peering through the painted on snow and green boughs of holly, picking out what we “wanted” Santa to bring us.

Mr. Hall had the latest models of Western Flyer bicycles; the special Red Ryder BB Gun with the lariat ring and leather thong; and the new, bigger and improved Gilbert Chemistry Set.

We’d choose everything we wanted at the Western Auto and then do the same at the Ben Franklin Store and then Cannon’s Drugs and on up Broadway to Bailey Moore Wrinkle’s Hardware. We didn’t ever get these things you understand. But we sure picked out a lot.

It was a time of hope. And giving. And sharing. And miracles. Leon thought it wouldn’t hurt to get on every list we could think of.

Christmas takes you back.

To the night before! I tried to stay awake listening for reindeer. I’ve had those visions of sugar plums. I thought about my single gift under the tree. It was too big for a Buck Knife, too small for a Harley Davidson.

Christmas morning we made a bee line for the tree! I didn’t look to see if Santa got his cookies. I didn’t wait till we turned the bubbling lights on. “Let’s get to the presents!”

Mom would be in the rocking chair with her worn out King James in her lap, “Before we do anything else, let’s read the second chapter of Luke.” It was exactly the same EVERY Christmas morning as long as I lived there!

Now, I don’t know how much Bible you know, but I’m telling you, Luke Chapter Two is the lonnngeeesssst passage in the whole thing! It’s like reading “Gone with the Wind” and “Pride and Prejudice” at one sitting! And I’ve got something between a knife and a motorcycle just waiting for me in a box two feet away!

Mother read that chapter with so much feeling you’d a’thought our lives depended on it! I could smell the donkey and goats that Luke didn’t even write about but I figured must be close by keeping watch over that little manger.

Christmas takes you back.

To the future! It took a long journey, a bump or two and some soul searching. But I, like Mary in chapter two, have pondered these things in my heart. It wasn’t just blind luck that Jesus happened to be born on Christmas Day.

And Mom wasn’t reading us some story out of the past. Or even the present for that matter. She was reading about my future……and yours!

Merry Christmas,