Christmas memories

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole crooning classic Christmas tunes always reminds me of my Daddy. His smooth bass voice blended beautifully with the somewhat static sounds coming from the car radio as we headed to my grandmother’s house for the most wonderful time of the year. Laughter, fun, food, and cousins galore awaited us at the old, cold farmhouse. The love of family and a roaring fire warmed our hearts if not our little bodies. There were just too many of us trying to huddle by the fire for any to really get warm!

In those days people didn’t wear seatbelts; at least, we didn’t. I distinctly remember napping in the little nook beneath the back dash. The sunshine lulled me to sleep as happy thoughts floated through my head like visions of sugarplums in “The Night Before Christmas.” Pretty soon one of the other children would awaken me from my pleasant dreams for their chance at a snooze.

The car bumped along for what seemed an eternity before my siblings and I began to see signs that we were getting close to our destination. Excitement mounted, as did the squeals of delight! Then our plan of sneaking up on our grandparents to surprise them became more elaborate with every passing mile.

“Let’s hide behind the trees in the yard and all jump out and yell surprise when they come to the door!”

“If we all hide how will they know someone is there?”

“They will hear the car, dummy!”

“Now children, you know dummy is a bad word. We’ll have no such talk in this car!”

Yes, dummy was once a very bad word. Actually, it still is, but we, as a society have become almost immune to poor manners due to the literal onslaught of filth pouring across the airwaves. But that’s another column for another day.

A plan was formulated and carried out to all of our satisfaction, as our grandparent’s knew the drill. I’m sure they were awaiting our arrival and planning their looks of surprise as they patiently sat with supper on the table for our hungry little mouths to gobble up. Even with all our sophistication we never thought to wonder how the table just happened to be set for our evening meal.

Sometimes it’s just better not to question and wonder about everything. Have you ever noticed that? If we look for ulterior motives we can find them. If we look for reasons to doubt the magic we can also find them. If we look hard enough we can even doubt the things we hold dear.

On the other hand, faith in humanity, magical moments, and God is a choice. It is a conscious decision to look for the things that bring joy, life, and hope into this often-confusing world of ours. We can choose to focus on all that is wrong, or we can focus on the things that are lovely and good. At this time of year, especially, I choose to believe in the goodness of people. It’s easy to get caught up in world events or our busy lives and forget the simple meaning of Christmas.

A child was born. His name is Jesus.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at