By Mary Manners
When the subject of Christmas gifts comes up, most people think of packages wrapped in colorful paper and shimmery bows, sitting under the Christmas tree, just waiting to be opened.
When I think of Christmas gifts, I think of my dad, who passed away thirteen years ago this holiday season. He was a man of many gifts, including the joy he shared for the traditions of Christmas.
Dad loved light-especially the light that brightened a fresh-cut pine tree in honor of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each December first, like clockwork, Dad piled his family-all seven of us-into our Chevy station wagon and drove us to the tree lot where, shivering in the Chicago-winter cold, we oohed and aahed over each and every tree until we found the perfect one.
Once home, with the tree safely arranged in a metal stand and watered, Dad climbed the ladder to our attic (a mysterious place, indeed) where the Christmas lights were stored. He’d lower the battered cardboard box (re-used, season after season) to the floor below and dust it off.
Then my brother and sisters-five of us-gathered ’round him in the living room and waited, eyes huge with wonder, as he carefully unraveled the strands of lights and tested each one. No matter how stubborn the bulbs, dad always managed to get them working.
Beautiful, vibrant colors turned the room to a kaleidoscope, dancing over walls and windows with the feel of winter magic. One by one, my siblings and I each took the place of honor beside Dad, helping him to adorn the tree with light. Pine sap clung to our fingers, but we didn’t care. All the while, our hearts soared with happiness and child-like wonder.
Finally, dad gently gathered the Christmas star from the box. Hushed with awe, we waited while Dad chose one of us to hoist to his shoulders for the greatest thrill-placing the treasured beacon of light-the Baby Jesus Star-atop the highest limb. Somehow, Dad always sensed who needed that extra touch of attention, and there was never any argument.
With the lights in place (just in time for nightfall-always) we circled the tree and held hands to sing Silent Night. In the earliest years, the tune didn’t always carry and the words were sometimes off, but Dad didn’t care. He knew we understood what the tree-and especially the lights-symbolized…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. The most wonderful gift of all!
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they’ve rescued from local animal shelters…Lucky and Gus. She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone. Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.