Santa Claus was good to the young ones in our household this year. After spending Christmas Eve helping the meteorologist track the big man using NORAD’s “Santa Tracker,” I believe he arrived at the homeplace around 3:30am Christmas morning, and left everything the girls wished for… with one exception.
The eldest of the 3 asked for something called Bendaroos, and I’ve researched it extensively only to determine it’s junk. But most toys are junk in the end, except they make kids happy. Anything that makes kids happy has a designation superior to junk, even when it is just that. Junk!

Bendaroos… “As seen on TV” You can’t buy a box of these things in stores. You have to go online. I wondered if Santa had wifi up at the North Pole.

He left a note on the coffee table explaining that he was sorry that there were no Bendaroos under the tree this year, because they must have fallen out of the sleigh as he flew over Jamaica. Santa went on to say that an elf would drop them off as soon as he could retrieve them. Now my little big girl keeps talking about an elf coming to see her. Greatness.

As expected, Christmas was a big hit for everyone in the household, except for me of course. Despite the warmth in my heart over making their holidays special, I’m a little selfish. I’m one of the many who get down in the dumps this time of year, and that’s just a fact nobody can get around. Not even me.

Christmas is a special mark on most every one’s calendar in my part of the world. That’s even true for people who aren’t Christians. They may not celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and his status as a saviour to all that believe in him, but they still pause for the cause. They join in their Christian counterparts in hoping for the familiar but underrated phrase ‘Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men.” I hope too.

The network radio star and Austin storyteller John Henry Faulk made a living on making people laugh, but he also made his mark by making people think. His style was extremely rural. The TV show Hee Haw used his talents in the 1980’s with success. It turns out though, that on that corn-pone comedy series, Faulk appeared to be one of the most intelligent. (I think Archie Campbell was the other brain on the show.) Faulk’s account of one Christmas gained popularity when NPR aired it in the 1970’s. I wept when I first listened to it. I can’t listen to it anymore, but you can by going here.

Since Christmas is a special mark, it also allows your mind to go back to those happy memories of Christmas’ past. Christmas takes me to several places in my mind. The most prevalent is a trip back in time to the faces and sounds of loved ones who’ve left this world long ago. It takes me back to trips to my great grandparents. It’s waking up to a tree so tall that Daddy had to get out the industrial ladder so Mama could decorate the top. It takes me back to actually cutting a Christmas tree from the woods outside of town, whether it was on my family’s land, or some ditch east of Austin Chapel.

Christmas is my Mama Lizia’s tea cakes. It’s Nannie & Papa’s fake Christmas tree. It’s bags of fruit delivered to the residents out at Sunny Acres Nursing Home. It’s taking highway 44 home from Mama Tidwell’s house in hopes of seeing Santa Claus flying across the sky. I never saw him fly, but we took that route because 30 years before, my Mama was a small child- and her family thought they saw Santa on that road. Christmas was seeing the train roll through town and wondering when Daddy would be home again. It was Uncle Joe Shumake and his red Chevrolet pick up.

It was the Methodist Church on Christmas Eve, the Baptist Church for Christmas Day, and making decorations in Mama’s kitchen to hang on the De Kalb community Christmas tree.

It’s a lot of things to me that aren’t there anymore, and while I smile when I think back to them… the smile fades when I return to reality.

But leave it to my house full of young people (partner included) to put the smile back on my face. Knowing they’re healthy and growing (and happy) is worth a hundred Christmases.