December 25, 2008
Today begins the twelve days of Christmas. We began our celebrating and gift giving today.Tomorrow we shop for the presents we wanted under the tree.
Family gathered today and as always we laughed, ate good food, and told stories. Only two of my siblings were with me, my two sisters, but down in south Georgia and North Florida my three brothers enjoyed the holiday with their children and grandchildren.
Once many years ago, there were seven of us who gathered at the "big house" where my parents lived. One of my brothers who couldn't imagine Santa coming anywhere except at that house, brought his boys down early on Christmas morning to see what was under the tree. This brother usually gave his kids some live pet or animal.
One Christmas Eve after Mother, Daddy and my sister and I were in bed and sound asleep, Daddy said he awoke to a noise. He recognized the sound but had no idea why it was coming from the family room of our house. He lay there a minute or two and when he heard the bleating of a goat, he smiled and relaxed. Santa Clause had evidently brought a billy goat for Christmas.
Over the years my nephews were recipients of everything from puppies to ducks to baby chicks. He loved to see their eyes when the little boys walked in and saw the gifts under the tree. In the middle of everything was a cage with some live animal. I'm thankful he never gave them snakes.
To be his kid at Christmas was to always expect the unexpected. He loved Christmas and made it a magical time for me as a child and for his four boys in later years. This Christmas he wrote a song about all our Christmases past. He sang it to my two sisters on the phone, but I know it will make me sad so I hope he won't sing it to me, but will send it to me in the mail. Then when I began bawling, I can do it in private.
Families are not perfect. There are few if any Hallmark parents and siblings. But there are Hallmark moments and mixed in with the bickering and petty jealousies, we often forget those special times. On days like today, my mind takes me back to a simpler time, a slower time when love for each other was the most important element of being. When the love between our parents and the love between each of the seven of us, overcame any challenge we faced. We were all for one and one for all, and together we were strong enough to take on the biggest threat or problem. Distance and time has brought into focus the wonderful world we enjoyed growing up on a farm. Memories of that time grow more precious as we look back knowing we can never retrace those steps.