Christmas Eve, a Random Gift and a Determined Father

by on November 2nd, 2010
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Christmas is my favorite time of year. The music, the decorations, and the general feeling of the season just fill me right up. One of my fondest Christmas memories takes me back many years to when I was a small girl.

Christmas is rich with tradition in my family. As I grew to adulthood, I brought these traditions with me, and added some of my own. The one that matters to this story is the opening of a single gift on Christmas Eve in remembrance of the three wise men and the gifts they brought to the newborn king.

As children, we always waited anxiously for evening to fall on December 24th. That year, dinner came and went; it always had to come first, much to our consternation. Then we gathered in the living room, and settled to listen to our father read the Christmas Story from the New Testament. In the corner, the gaily decorated Christmas tree stood tall, and the many presents wrapped beneath held our attention over the story.

After the story and song, my mother gave each of us a stern look. Apparently our wiggles made her suspicious there was going to be a mass attack on those presents. So, one by one, she called each of us to pick one gift from under the tree, return to where we’d been sitting and wait quietly as it was repeated with each child. Then it happened. Dad picked up his gift and started shaking it. It was small, and no noise was made. My mother chose her own gift and then gave us the nod.

It wasn’t exactly mass mayhem. But wrapping paper was flying one way, ribbons the other, and shouts of joy filled the room. My father opened his gift, and it was a box of 38 bullets. He didn’t have a 38 handgun. He took one look at my mother and reached for another gift before she could stop him. Well, we weren’t about to be left behind so we all dived for the tree and grabbed another gift.

It happened over and over, until finally my father reached for the last box under the tree. It was large. It rattled. It clunked. It was extremely heavy, and he had a look of disappointment on his face. But he unwrapped the gift, opened the box and found it filled with an iron, marbles, corks, clothes pins, and a brand new 38 pistol.

There weren’t any presents to unwrap on Christmas morning that year. But it has always been my favorite Christmas.

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