Thursday, December 25, 2014


Memories of special Christmases cross my mind as I sit this morning in anticipation of having all of my children and grandchildren here later today.  I reflect on the where and the what and the who. 

Some things that stand out in my mind are my first shotgun -- received at Christmas when I was 12 years old on a trip to my Grandmother's house in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  From there we traveled to Richland, Missouri, where we stayed with my Mom's sister and got snowed in.  While there I got to use the shotgun for the first time as my Grandfather took me squirrel and rabbit hunting in Swamp Holler.  After traipsing through snow for half the day we ended up at his sister's house for a cup of hot chocolate and fresh homemade biscuits cooked in her wood burning stove. 

I also remember another Christmas that my Dad took me pheasant hunting for the very first time.  It was the last day of the season and he and I went out hunting.  I "claimed" my first pheasant, but I have always been suspicious that he actually shot it.  It fell when I pointed and pulled the trigger, but I could swear I heard him shoot at the same time.....

I remember a Christmas in Nebraska when we expected it to be just us -- Missy and I and the kids.  Instead, my parents and siblings made the drive to be with us.  They had never been to Nebraska before.  They were delayed returning home because of heavy snow.  The worst of it was in the Texas Panhandle north of Amarillo.

I remember going hunting on Christmas nearly every year as I grew up.  It was either quail hunting or pheasant hunting or rabbit hunting.  Where we lived was far from any deer hunting.  There were several times we had pheasant for Christmas dinner -- my grandmother could batter them like a chicken-fried steak and cook them and they were pretty good.  Especially when served with lots of mashed potatoes and her cream gravy.  Occasionally you would bite down on a #4 shot bb that she failed to find when cleaning the birds.  I guess that was just part of the adventure of eating what you hunted.

I remember kids getting on their new bicycles for the very first time.  I remember a giant doll house for the barbies.  I remember excitement and disappointment.  But, at the heart of it all was family.  Happy, excited children, smiling, busy adults, domino games, card games, too much candy, homemade pies and laughter. 

Some of the faces are gone now.  New faces have arrived.  The mantle has passed and it is now clear that much of what I took for granted was the result of those who loved, served.  They knew the importance of those memories and sought to build them in me.  They sacrificed themselves to share joy with those they loved.

On this day we celebrate in honor of the birth of our Savior, it is important to remember His sacrifice that we might experience the joy of His love and share it with others.  May your day be merry and bright.


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