I will never forget my first Christmas as a married man. Mary and I were living in an 8 x 36 foot trailer in Lexington at the time. I had lived in that thing with a cat named Charlie all the way through college and it was just the right size for the cat. Nonetheless we were happy as two bugs in a rug, as they say. We got ourselves a Christmas tree, piled some furniture up on top of itself so we would have a place to put it; and then we realized that we had no ornaments, no lights, and no money whatsoever. The being said, we determined that reality aside, one way or the other we were going to get that tree decked out right even if it killed us. So we found a couple of pennies to rub together down in between the cushions of the sofa and headed to the first Kroger store that ever came to Columbia; the one over there on Bush River road in a building that has since housed the Burlington coat factory, and lots of other business. I believe that building has been torn down now and replaced with a Wal-Mart. Time marches on I suppose.
Well, we both were as excited as can be. After all we were little more than kids ourselves. Mary had just turned 21 and I was only six months ahead of her.
First of all we got a couple of strands of lights, and then we took a look at the ornaments.
First things we found were some of those glass balls ornaments; you know the blue ones, the silver and the red ones. Cheap yea, but we still have a couple of them thirty seven years later. Of course the paint is about gone from them, and the springy things have sprung, but we just can’t bring ourselves to part with them.
After that first box of bobbles was purchased, we went treasure hunting. What we found were four blue bells with silver sparkles on them. We had to have them. They were the things of which heirlooms were made. So we decided that beans would be ok for a week or so and bought them. When we hung them on that tree they glistened and were just about the prettiest things we had ever seen.
When Christmas morning came that year, I do not remember a thing I received. I do remember those bells however and to this day as we continue the tradition of hanging those bells on our tree; I remember the innocence and the joy of that first Christmas with Mary. I remember all of the Christmases since; and I thank God for the joy of it all. I thank him for the gift He has given me of a godly woman, three wonderful children and seven beautiful grandchildren. I am amazed at His generosity to a man who gives so little in return. God is good, isn’t He?
I will also never forget my first Christmas as a father. Sarah was all of four months old and Mary and I were both still a bit scared of her; but we were going to do it right you know.
We were living in Gilbert by that time in an old house that we were in the process of fixing up. Well, actually at that time we were in the process of making it habitable. Habitable or not it was ours, and we didn’t have to turn sideways to pass one another in the hall anymore, which is a strangely satisfying blessing if you have ever been there.
It was a really cold winter that year, and in that we had no heat but a woodstove it was a bit chilly in the house; but it was Christmas, we were young and in love and the weather meant nothing to us. We were living in just one room of the house, because the stove would only heat that room. Yes, it was a bit cramped, but it was ours and we had just been given a wonderful gift, the gift of life and family.
Christmas morning dawned, and Sarah kept on sleeping. I don’t know why but I figured a kid, even a four month old kid, would know it was Christmas and come a running; but she just kept sleeping. Finally Mary woke her up and sat her by the tree. She just sat there staring at the lights and the presents, as few as they were, marveling; and once again I thanked God for my life, my family and His love.
Since that time I have had first Christmases nine more times, and each and every time the kid just sits there and marvels; and I know how they feel.
When I think of Christmas and its true meaning, I mean when I truly think of what happened on that starlit night, of the gift that was given; I am left speechless and amazed, and all I can do is marvel.
As this Christmas season dawns, make sure you take the time to marvel as well.