Invariably, one of the things that the holiday season ignites in most of us are memories of Christmas past. The Christmas season is a time of reflection, some of which are joyous, gay, and hilarious, while others are grievous, somber, and sad. In my column today, we are going to forego the negative memories and focus on some that will help you to take a joyous journey down memory lane about the most wonderful time of the year. Using my fondest memories of Christmas past, let us board the bus and get started to the region of reflection.
The Night I Thought Santa
Had Bypassed Our House
One of my most enduring memories of Christmas past was when it looked like Santa had forgotten to stop by our house. I can remember awakening early (around 1:00 a.m.) on this Christmas morning because I had to use the bathroom. To be truthful about it, we did not have a bathroom, but a bucket in our room where I slept with my other brothers. Afterwards, I went into the front room of our four-room house. This was the room where we had a Christmas tree and on Christmas morning, all of our toys and gifts would be placed in individual sections of this little room with our names to identify whose space it was. When I went into the room, there were no toys or gifts anywhere in sight. My heart sunk within me and tears formed in my eyes, as I went back to bed with the horrible thought that Santa had bypassed our house. The next few hours that I slept, before awakening on this Christmas morning, were restless and filled with dread of what I would most likely discover when I finally got up. However, to my delight and relief, what I found when I went into the front room were toys and gifts placed in the various spots with each child’s name identifying whose spot it was. I was truly overwhelmed with joy for my dread had turned into delight that I would never forget.
Getting My Most Coveted Christmas Gift
I venture to say that in most of our lives when we were growing up, there was a special gift that we wanted to get for Christmas above everything else. Though it may have varied in type or nature, nearly every one of us had a dream gift that we coveted for Christmas as a child; mine was a bicycle. To the best of my recollection, I cannot remember any of my three older brothers ever getting a bicycle for Christmas or at any other time while we were growing up. Perhaps it was because my parents could not afford to purchase one back then. In our neighborhood, many of the families who purchased bicycles for their children at Christmastime bought only one that had to be shared by every child in the family who was big enough to ride it. Thank God for Mr. James Grice, who was our neighbor, who would get old, used bikes from white folks, he either knew or worked for and would repair them. Being a close friend of one of his sons back then, I would often get a chance to ride one of those used bikes. However, as generous as Mr. and Mrs. Grice were to some of the neighborhood children like me, there was nothing like having and owning your own bicycle. So I told my parents that I wanted a bicycle for Christmas. They did not say yes or no, but we will see. Perhaps I was hoping against hope and asking for something that was beyond their ability to achieve. After all, no one else in the family had ever owned a bicycle. To make matters worse, what they usually bought for one, they bought for others. There were three of us who were at the bicycle riding age. So when I got up on this Christmas morning and saw three bicycles in the front room, words could not explain nor express the euphoria that erupted within me. I had received my most coveted Christmas gift and I would never forget that moment.
The Year I Learned the True Meaning of Christmas
My season of receiving gifts from Santa Claus had passed; I was a teenager. My parents had been given me a few dollars for Christmas to do as I wished. There was really nothing I wanted to purchase that could not wait until the Christmas season was over and the price of things were drastically reduced. My mother told us about this very poor and destitute family in our church who only had their mother working for the entire family, which consisted of her and six children. She had made it her business to see to it that the younger children would get at least one gift for Christmas and that they would have plenty of food for the holidays. I was moved by compassion to give my mother all of my little Christmas money in an effort to assure that she would have enough to do what she was trying to do for this poor woman and her children. I will never forget the joy that I experienced in giving all I had to help people in need during the season that we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Who came into the world to give His life for the sin of the whole world.
A Car for
The last great memory of Christmas that I will share with you in my column today is the year when we (my brothers and I) got together and purchased my mother a car. She had fallen on some tough financial times, due to some domestic issues between her and my father. My mother had always been our greatest encourager and motivator, the one who would always give her best and last in order that her children’s needs would be met. So we came together during the Christmas season and bought her a used car from one of the auction places in Darlington. I don’t think the car was that good and it did not serve her long, nor well. However, it was the thought that would be treasured and endured. We came together to the best of our ability to be a blessing to the very one who had been a blessing to us ever since our conception to that present time. It was without doubt one of the most rewarding and memorable Christmases that I will cherish the memory of for the rest of my life.