My bedroom was in the far corner of our home facing the cotton fields. During the winter months the stalks now barren appeared to the then 12 year old a haven for dreams and wishes that hid among the shadows. My room was always cold and I always afraid. Mom would retrieve our Christmas tree from underneath her bed. We didn’t have a chimney. In fact none of my friends had a chimney. We collectively discussed how Santa managed to enter our homes. Along with his collaborating with our parents to hand out clothes. Which I wanted as much as a road trip with my sister.
Our Christmas tree, which I have no idea where we happened to acquire it was aluminum. While I was an average student at that time I was pretty sure trees didn’t come in aluminium. Until mom assured me they did. The tree had a reflector of red, blue, orange, and green. When I went to bed I reflected on the excitement among my family and neighbors. As I knelt in my cold room I asked God if He would make Christmas last everyday. In my little mind I can recall reasoning that if Christmas was so great why not do it everyday.
Seemed logical to me. Grandmother who happened to be the spiritual inns keeper of our family said if I asked in faith it would occur. So, I wrote in “Christmas” for everyday of the year on my wall calendar. I was so excited that I wondered why hadn’t any other kid or adult thought of this. I didn’t want presents. Just that good feeling where everyone forgave each other, no one lost their temper. and everyone volunteered to do a little more.
When I slipped into bed, I laid so carefully that I could hear the snow fall on my window sill. matching beat with the beating of my 12 year old heart. There wasn’t a sound in the house. Just my heart and the snow flakes.
The next morning was the day after Christmas. I leaped out of bed excited to see my handiwork. Mom slid the tree under her bed. Rudeness prevailed in the neighborhood. Regular programming had ensued on television. No one emitted “Merry Christmas.”
That was the last time I ever prayed to have Christmas everyday until I became a parent. One Christmas I made over $20,000 in one day. The kids couldn’t wait to tear open one more present. They opened a gift before the wrapped of the preceding gift fell upon the floor. Paper and gifts were piled high. We had our perfunctory prayer.
One would have thought we had learned. Years earlier, when I lost a job due to lay off we only had oranges for food. I gave my children and my wife literally, “IOUs.” No one complained!!
Seriously I did. I made a jump rope for one of my children by braiding bits of rope together. We told jokes as gits. Even made gift cards for actual services we would do for the other. Someone polished my shoes. And so on. In fact, everyone made a gift. To this day, we remember that as being our best Christmas ever. Our gratitude not wishes filled the air to the heavens.
That was the Christmas that lasted everyday for a year.
Jim Woods is President of Leadership Matters Institute. A nonprofit leadership development firm dedicated to helping organizations and people improve society through effective leadership.
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