Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Memories, Bullets, Pain, and Crystal Balls

Writing a column for a weekly newspaper has many challenges.   The greatest of which is the “deadline.”  Ideally, I attempt to provide my readers the most up-to-date information on subjects I feel will be of the greatest interest that particular week.  I write and submit my column three days before you hold the paper in your hand and read it.  Therefore, sometimes I have to gaze into my crystal ball to avoid providing you dated information, or heaven forbid, erroneous information.  

THIS WEEK’S column is a perfect example of the conundrum I sometimes face.  I would love to tell you about my wonderful holiday with my family or impart a heartwarming holiday happening.  But, it hasn’t happened yet!  Christmas will be history by the time you read this, and your thoughts will be on the New Year that hasn’t happened yet, either!

SO, THIS is a time when I will dust off that crystal ball and make a prediction.  This year, your Christmas was either the best or worst you’ve ever experienced.  You may remember this past Christmas your entire life, or not even remember it at all.  You may have Christmas remorse when the bills start rolling in.  You are probably feeling the dread of taking down those Christmas decorations and finally decide it’s okay to leave them up until after the new year.  You are actually considering using that fruitcake as a door stop.  Your kids are already tired of their new toys and you are already tired of picking them up.  

I CAN make these predictions with near certainty because I’ve experienced all these things at Christmas over my many years on this planet.  I also know that while we are experiencing Christmas, we may think it is the worst, until years later you realize it created a lifelong memory. Your family will re-tell the story every ensuing Christmas.  I am reminded of my Christmas when I was four years old.  I was a born “giver” and my Christmas enjoyment has always been picking out that perfect gift for someone and watching their eyes light up.  More than anything, I wanted to give my Daddy a special gift that would make his eyes light up.  Boy did I!  I knew how much bullets meant to him, but having no way of buying some, I took five 22 cal. bullets from his box.  I wrapped them up and placed them under the tree.  

CHRISTMAS morning all the family sat around the fireplace and opened presents.  My Daddy seemed so happy to get bullets and said all the proper things a parent says when a child does something heartfelt.  Everyone pitched in to clean up and threw boxes and paper into the fireplace.  Suddenly, “Bang!”  Sparks and ashes blew out of the fireplace.  “Bang” again!  Everybody was scattering and yelling at me, “How many bullets did you give him?”  That’s when I knew I made a terrible mistake and said, “five” as I cried.  At the time, I thought that was the worst Christmas a person could have.  I could have killed someone in my family.  After the danger was over, I was amazed that no one was mad at me and they couldn’t stop laughing.  Over the years that story has been told by family members bringing much laughter and amusement to everyone.  I’m still a giving person, just not bullets.

ANOTHER TIME in my life I thought, “this is a horrible Christmas,” only to realize it was the most wonderful Christmas I would ever have.  Forty- two years ago, I was in agony, I thought I would surely die, then I was afraid I wouldn’t.  I was in labor 36 hours, but when I held my beautiful baby son late on the 26th of December, all the pain and bad memories disappeared.  Each year since, I have apologized to my son for his birthday being incidental to Christmas and forever doomed to a life without birthday parties and presents (except from Mom, of course).  Happy birthday, son!

IT’S A BIT easier to predict your New Years’ experience.  Unless you fall asleep on the sofa, you will watch a ball drop, toast the new year, and kiss your special someone.  Depending on how much you’ve had to drink, you may kiss everyone.  You may or may not awake with a hangover. You will watch football from the sofa all day.  If you’re old South, you will feast on black-eye peas, collard greens, hog jowl, and cornbread. If you’re not old South, I have no clue what you eat that day. Bless your heart.

OF COURSE, it would have been much easier for me to write a generic column recapping the events of 2017.  There is no way I wanted to relive the worst political year of my life.  Besides, I did not want to spoil this wondrous time of the year by evoking the “T” word.  I don’t need a crystal ball to tell me we’ll hear enough about him in 2018.

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