A great deal of care was taken to prepare for Christmas at our house. For several weeks, Mom and Dad's bedroom was off-limits for any reason because of the gifts that were stored there.
I have mentioned all of this before in several blogs, but I have been missing our dad something fierce. He was like the brightest lights on the Christmas Tree during Christmas.
There was a time in my adult life that I wasn't very thankful for my childhood. It seemed that we were stuck on the farm and didn't do all the "fun" things that other kids got to do.
However, looking back; our Christmas vacations were full of fun and excitement. We went "hooky bobbing" with sleds attached to Smokey, our pony or as we got older, someone would drive the pick-up while we hung on with sturdy tow ropes and our dog Snip would run behind making sure that any stragglers got the stray cow treatment.
We also had big fiberglass forms that slid on the roads with great speed. I think Dad had the most fun doing that than we did.
We learned to ice skate on ponds that didn't have a very smooth surface and sledded down some wonderful hills.
The best part is that we didn't have to go to a winter park to do all of these things. The playground was literally in our back yard.
A haystack could be transformed into barricades for snow fights or hideouts. And the more company that you had, the more fun it was.
And in the evenings; we played board games or cards. I think I have mentioned before about the cutthroat game of "Spoons". Playing time was limited if you happened to be slow on the uptake when someone started to grab for the first spoon. No safety equipment was allowed either.
One Christmas was spent playing ping pong on our new table. The tournaments were fierce and loud. I won't mention names, but one of the brothers didn't like to lose, ever. Another brother liked to win and was very vocal about his success.
Our parents made these holidays special. Nothing was expensive or trendy and if it couldn't be found in Gooding or Twin, we didn't need it anyway.
Santa Claus wasn't scoffed at by kids over the age of six. He was real until we finished grade school. Thanks to Dad's "letters" from Santa, it was easier to believe for a very long time.
Christmas was indeed a special time. Money was not all that plentiful, but imagination and ingenuity was.
Our mother baked fresh bread, biscuits and cinnamon rolls to die for. She kept her sewing machine busy too with new shirts, pajamas or nightgowns.
I can still hear Dad's teasing voice waking us up at 3:00 AM. "Wake up, it's Christmas, Santa Claus didn't come this year. (We never believed him). I can hear the cautious rustle of wrapping paper being furtively disassembled as Dad casually pretended to watch the college football games prior to Christmas morning.
There will always be a retail store offering you instant happiness in the way of "bargains" prior to Christmas. However, your loved ones may not be here for the next "Black Friday" sale or Thanksgiving Day. TV's; electronics, or the newest toy can be purchased anytime.
But you cannot buy one last hug or kiss from a loved one from the best department store. The newest and brightest gifts are the ones that come from the heart and not found at 6:00 A.M. at Walmart.
My memories of our family's Christmas mornings are filled with the sounds of ripping paper and exclamations of wonder. The only coal that could be found was in our furnace keeping our home safe and warm.
Keep your loved ones close this holiday season just because you can. Every hug and greeting is just as precious as a gift of gold or diamonds. Share your history with your children and grandchildren and create new memories with them around the dinner table.
I miss you Dad, but as long as I can hear your voice in the wee hours of Christmas morning, I will be fine.