December 2, 2022 by Nathan Thane

January 19, 2023

In a special place within my treasure chest of memories I keep those of my childhood family Christmas.  From the anchors of my grandparents Mamaw and Papaw, their nine offspring and spouses had generated 27 grandkids.  Not all were yet born when I was 7 years old but enough were present at Christmas to bring much happiness during that and future Christmas reunions.  Our entire family spent Christmas eve in a small country house in the middle of a cotton field just outside Rule, Texas. The smell of the dust inside and the cotton windswept fields always caused my asthma to act up.  I had to beg my mother to let me play kick the can with my cousins.  As the night wore on having worked up a sweat we removed our coats to let the crisp night air cool us off.  Back inside I felt the touch of my cousins as we cramped shoulder to shoulder on the living room couch to look through my cousin Tommy Jo’s bubble gum card collection of the Beatles.  Everyone picked a Beatle and shared why he was their favorite.  The tree was decorated in old fashioned bulb lights, icicles and popcorn. What a wonder it was with all the draw gifts and a special gift for each and every grandchild.  The room was smoke-filled from the cigarettes of several of the parents.  Papaw took turns letting each grandchild sit with him as he cracked open a walnut just for you and if your turn was lucky you could watch him peel an orange with his pocket knife.    I still have the now digitized Christmas video taken by my mom’s 8-mm camera. She had to use a bar attachment with 4 bright blinding lights, forcing us to squint as we tried to look natural through the lights towards the camera.  We patiently watched the long dirt road leading to the farm waiting for the last of the cousins to arrive.  For each headlight off in the distance we held hope as it approached. Finally after everyone was there we said a short prayer and passed off presents with tomorrow’s Christmas lunch to look forward to, of course prefaced by my Grandpa’s prayer for all of us.  For me this was heaven on earth.  Surrounded by those you love at a special time of year.

Nathan Thane

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