Life’s Lessons


Christmases past

I recently wrote about holiday dinners at my one-room, eight-grade school in the Kentucky mountains. Christmas, of course, rated such a meal. We always started the day with Scripture reading and prayer so we read the Christmas story. I don’t remember having a tree in the room but one year, we popped corn and spent the afternoon stringing it for decoration. I don’t think we ever put on a Christmas program for the community but I’m not sure. Guess I need to talk with some of the students and see what they remember.

I suppose the first Christmas my life made a real difference to others was the Christmas day I arrived. I’m sure my older brothers would rather have been at home that Christmas Eve night instead of at the grandparents, but reports say they were brought home early in the morning. Personally, I’m sure I couldn’t have cared less since I had only arrived at about 12:30 that morning and I didn’t know these four- and seven-year-olds.

A few years later, I spoiled Christmas again when I heralded Christmas morning with scarlet fever, which led to quarantine for two or three weeks. Dad borrowed a small house trailer and he and my oldest brother moved into that for the duration. They could still be at home to take do the chores and Dad could still drive bus.

Then, there were Christmases at the Fulton County Home my parents managed for many years. I still treasure those memories. It was a live-in job, and though they had Christmas day off, one year some employees chose to stay overnight and go to their families in the morning. No one anticipated being iced in on Christmas morning, but we were. Our family celebration simply included all employees that year.

Fast forward. I was living in Kentucky and was beset with severely disabling headaches. I didn’t realize at the time how much having all her children home for the holiday meant to my mother. If I had, I’m sure it would have been different, but I missed several years of coming home. I had a good vehicle and know I could have made the drive, but the ladies I lived with convinced me to stay there. I’ve really regretted that ever since.

Then, Christmases in the coal mines. Now, if you are like most people, you mentally picture a coal mine to be dark, black, unlighted. Wrong! The side walls and top are kept white with rock dust after the coal is cut out. So, really, only the newest cuts are black.

Still, some items were not allowed. One of those not-allowed items was, of course, a Christmas tree. Yet, somehow a Christmas tree appeared on one section one year. It was set up where miners left their dinner buckets during their shift. No one seemed to know how that tree got there; nonetheless, there it was. In the interest of safety, it was made a pure white tree with the application of rock dust.

On the last day of work before Christmas break, the crew also had a hot meal. Food prepared at home was brought in at the beginning of the shift. Foods to be served hot were placed on top of the power box and kept warm until dinner time shut down.

All memorable times. The best remembrance of all is that all commemorated the birth of the Christ child.

Some 2,000 years ago, wise men were seeking His coming. Today, wise men (and women and children) still seek Him. May your Christmas be not only merry but may it also be a Christmas blessed by that very same Christ whose birth we celebrate.

Christmases past