I want to share a Christmas Story.
I was talking with a resident a few days ago and the subject of Christmas came up. The resident asked me about my favorite Christmas and I shared the story about the big Army Gun. We both laughed as I struggled to tell her the story without cracking up. Then I asked her to share her favorite Christmas Story. She paused for what seemed like an hour, then she started to speak.
We were a poor sharecropper family. There were 8 girls and 4 boys in my family and I was the middle child. The Christmas season arrived with no fan-fair, no expectation of gifts, no Christmas gift lists, no Christmas Tree nor lights to decorate the house. We lived in a house with an outhouse and no electricity. As a child, Christmas was just another day, until one of my friends invited me to spend Christmas with her family. It was something I have never seen before—Christmas. When I arrived home, I told my brothers and sisters what I saw, they just listened with their mouths open. I talked with them about Christmas at my friends for hours. But they told me not to say anything to mom and dad.
Christmas at my house was not like my friend’s, we only had the basics. My mom would buy a bushel of oranges, a bushel of apples, and huge bags of mixed nuts. In our stockings, they would place some fruit, nuts and a toy or a book in our stockings. Then she spoke fondly about the single toy she got in her stocking. After another brief pause, she started talking again.
It was 12 of us and Christmas was not really celebrated. We picked cotton to earn money for the family. So, there was nothing extra for Christmas gifts. While she was talking, her face reflected the sadness she experienced. Then her face lit up and she paused. We did not get presents, but my parents did the next best thing. On Christmas Eve, they would get a branch from an Oak tree and put it in a pot of dirt. Then they would break off holly branches with the red berries on them. They would place foil paper on the holly branches with the red berries on the Oak tree branch. The tree would be our version of a Christmas Tree. The foil with the red berries made a pretty reflection in the candle lights. It was the most beautiful tree in the world to me and my family. We would sit around the tree talking until the candles burned down, then we all had to go to bed. The next morning, the family woke up and open our stockings with smiles and hugs. Our Christmases were never full of stuff, but it was full of family and love.
Even though they did not have much for Christmas, she treasured those Christmases past.
From the desk of Chaplain Bobby,