I am pretty certain that most of us who embrace the belief and practice of celebrating Christmas have in our memory bank some of our most unforgettable Christmases. I want to share with you a few of my most memorable Christmases that date back many decades.
The Year I Got My First and Only Bicycle
Belonging to a large family put me and my seven brothers at a great disadvantage during Christmas time. If my recollection serves me right, I believe the year was 1962; I was in the fifth grade. I had asked my parents for a bicycle for Christmas. Usually, when one of us got something for Christmas, two more of my siblings who were in the same age bracket got a toy of the same type. That year, my brothers, Clifford and Earl (who were directly under me, respectively), also wanted bicycles. My mother and father had not told us “no” concerning our requests, but had said, “We will see what we can do.” Most of the children in my neighborhood who received bicycles for Christmas got one that had to be shared with their siblings because of how expensive they were. To my utter amazement and delight, when I finally awakened through a long night of anticipation and some uncertainty, I was full of elation and excitement that my bicycle (along with two others that belonged to my two younger brothers) were there. It was all brand spanking new! It was all mine and I did not have to share it with anyone else. To date, that was the greatest Christmas gift that I have ever received.
I knew that this would be the last year that I would be eligible to receive a gift from Santa Claus. Actually, I had come to know the truth about old Kris Kringle about three years earlier. However, being the boy who I was with a vivid imagination, I had convinced myself to believe in the myth although my natural side knew that it was a fairytale. So, I played along with my younger siblings and others who were still steeped in the belief of Santa Claus. I will never forget what I got that Christmas; I was in the seventh grade. It was a new first for me. I got a BB rifle or what some refer to as an air rifle that used little round BB bullets for ammunition. I was very satisfied for having been given this gift for Christmas. I had wanted one for a long time and now it had finally come into my possession. However, with this last gift that I would receive for Christmas came responsibility. BB rifles could potentially be dangerous, if not handled with much caution and safety. Back then, I knew of a boy who had a BB rifle, and he was not responsible. He recklessly shot out another boy’s eye.
The Year I Learned the True Meaning of Christmas
Now that my days of receiving gifts from Santa Claus were over and had been so for a few years, my father would give me and the older boys a small sum of money for Christmas. We could do with it as we wished. It was not very much to my recollection. It was between $25.00 and $30.00. I will never forget this very, very destitute, and poor family who were members of the little Pentecostal Holiness Church I attended when I was growing up in Newtown. The family consisted of the mother and seven children (five girls and two boys). The mother was a very good and hardworking woman who my mother had helped to secure a job at Rownd and Sons Basket Factory. She told us the bad news about the mother not having enough money to purchase any of her children any gifts for Christmas. My mama had obligated herself to the responsibility of purchasing food for the family’s Christmas meal. A few of my brothers and I (after hearing the sad news about this family) volunteered to give our Christmas money to this poor woman so that she might be able to purchase some gifts or toys for her younger children. This act of sacrificing and giving, in order that others who were less fortunate than me, was one of the most rewarding and memorable Christmases that I have ever experienced. It helped to teach me the true meaning of Christmas.
The Year I
I was married to my wife in October of 1972. Christmas was only a little over two months away. The first Christmas after we were married has to rank as one of my most memorable ones. We were still babies as I see it now. She was 18 years old, and I had just turned 21 years old on December 11 of that year. To be truly honest about it, though I had just turned 21, I was more like 17 or 18 years old when it came to maturity and being a man. I was not ready for marriage and my poor wife had to suffer the consequences of my selfishness and immaturity as a husband. I had no place to put her when we were married. We had to stay in my parent’s crowded home; my sister gave us her room. I will never forget how she endured the situation, especially during our first Christmas as a couple. This is one of the reasons why I do not mind giving her what she asks for (within reason) today if it is in my power to provide it. She never complained about being so inconvenienced that first year when we were married and during our first Christmas as a couple, when I had so little to offer her. Her willingness to adapt and put up with my immaturity, selfishness, and lack of responsibility at that time is truly why I rank that as one that is unforgettable.