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A Christmas to remember

Lately I have reflected on Christmases of yore and some in particular came back to me as priceless.

Like the time I drove all the way to Memphis to buy my firstborn son a bright red Honda motor bike for his seventh Christmas day’s main present.

When I was a 6-year-old lad, my dad bought me a Lionel train set from the Ben Franklin store on Main Street in Bogalusa and I have never forgotten that one either.

But, I would have to say the No. 1 of all was going beyond my immediate family and reaching out to some lonely people.

It involved 16 elderly widow women I had the fond pleasure of pastoring back in the early ‘90s while at Leakesville.

This group of ladies was such a joy to be around, so it came to me to make that one Christmas a special one by inviting them all out to our farm home located up on a high hill we fondly called Zion’s Hill.

The lower part of the property was pasture land, and one could see up the quarter-mile drive the entire to the house and large yard nestled up on the ridge.

Back then, it was one of my favorite projects to make that hill come alive at Christmas. I outlined the large, two-story house in lights and covered every shrub in brightly colored glow.

I recreated several scenes like a manager scene and had music playing. It was a sight to behold, and people would drive long distances just to look up on that hill aglow.

It would take me a month to put it all up, and a month to take it all down. Life was grand back then, and I was young at heart.

We had a wood-burning fire place, so we built a fire that cold evening and sent the church van and gathered up our ladies while my wife prepared homemade soup and spice tea for them all.

Back then, Beanie Babies had just made their appearance so I bought a varied lot of them and placed all on the coffee table in the den in front of the roaring fireplace for them to pick and choose.

After being brought up the long lane and into my winter wonderland of lights and music, we escorted them into our home. They were enraptured by our holiday setting to say the least.

As their meal was being prepared  the ladies went after their Beanie Baby of choice, and as I stood back and watched all the snatching and grabbing, the shouts and overall exuberance of those darlings, I about split my sides laughing.

As we all sat around the fire sipping hot chocolate and spiced tea, it was a Christmas like no other.

We later loaded them all up and went to Mobile, Alabama, about 45 minutes away to look at lights in the many subdivisions to top the affair off in a grand way before taking them all home.

Yes, it was a Christmas to remember.

Most, if not all of the group have died, but for me I know it had to rank very high with each and every one of them as one of the best holidays they ever had.

You know, that is what Christmas is all about, it is making memories for people who are less fortunate.

Here in Lincoln County and surrounding communities, there are a lot of lonely people both young and old.

For various reasons, they are less fortunate than most.

Rest homes, hospitals and even residents in their own homes are restricted and confined to beds for various reasons..

And with jail cells at capacity, there will be a lot of blue Christmases near you unless you do what I did.

To make a lasting memory, you must do what I and my wife did that special Christmas time.

Most of us go to church with elderly folks.

Their immediate family members are strapped with putting food on their kids table and many other necessities and for the most part these old darlings spend a lot of time alone.

Or maybe that single mom will have little money to spend on her little ones this year, and you and your spouse taking her to a mall to buy her babies a few gifts would immortalize you two to her forever.

That new family who barely made it to church last Sunday in that old jalopy would make you one fine memory sitting around your Christmas table.

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Mike Dykes is a pastor and story teller. He can be reached at angelsmannow@yahoo.com.