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Hunker Down with Kes

It’s All About Choosing The Right Gift

By Kesley Colbert
Posted 12/21/21

I wish I could remember every Christmas. Every present. Every popcorn stringing. Every tree lighting moment...... But the reality is it all kinda blends together in my memory bank.

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Hunker Down with Kes

It’s All About Choosing The Right Gift


I wish I could remember every Christmas. Every present. Every popcorn stringing. Every tree lighting moment...... But the reality is it all kinda blends together in my memory bank.

There were five of us counting Mom and Dad. We’d have five gifts under the tree. Christmas wasn’t too complicated in the 1950’s. And you might think us, in these days of plenty, a smidgen underprivileged by the scarcity of wrapped boxes.

But not so!

We were just tickled pink to get a gift. Any gift! And nobody in the family ever got left out!

Oh, Dad would try to trick us. He’d bring home some English walnuts and push them off as part of our Christmas presents. These were not the usual black walnuts that fell off of trees all over town. They were easier to crack and better tasting.

Leon told us they were grown in small groves just outside of London by a one armed Englishman and his hard working wife. They toiled, according to him, night and day to get them shipped to Tennessee just in time for Christmas. Of course, Leon told us lots of things…..

They still didn’t count as a real gift! If you couldn’t play with it in a ballgame, listen to it tick, cut yourself with it, shoot it or ride it down Stonewall Street, it was not a genuine present. It didn’t matter how many fancy walnuts you stuffed in a stocking or laid on the living room table.

Christmas was about the goods. What’s under that tree for ME….

And the anticipation. I’m telling you, we’d get excited as all get out when we saw the first snow-painted windows uptown. The merchants were “putting out” their Christmas stuff!

We’d get more ramped up decorating our tree. We ate enough sugar to keep us leaping over the sofa and climbing the walls. Christmas Eve had us tingling with excitement.

Leon would wake Dave and me up on Christmas morning. It was the best job he ever had! He’d be hopping up and down and announcing Santa had come in his most excited voice…..as if we needed a little amping at that moment.

We’d sprint down the hall and near ’bout crash into the tree. Who’s going to open what first? We don’t need scissors, just hand me the one with my name—

“Boys,” Mom brought the festivities to a screeching halt by her soft declaration, “let’s began this day by reading the Christmas Story.”

You’ve got to be kidding me! We know this one! She reads it to us EVERY Christmas! BEFORE we open the first gift!

She’d nestle into the old rocker with the Bible open to the second Chapter of Luke. It’s the longest chapter in the whole world. It’s longer than “Ivanhoe,” “Gone with the Wind” and “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” put together!

It begins serendipitously with, “It came to pass....” But it never did seem to on those long ago Christmas mornings.

Caesar Augustus himself decreed that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to pay their taxes because he was somehow kin to King David. About the time their new born baby was being laid in that manger, I’d catch a glance of Buddy Wiggleton whizzing by on his new bicycle.

We were not close to opening a present!

I’d hear BB’s bouncing off the telephone pole out by the road—clearly fired by someone’s brand new Red Ryder gun—by the time Mom got down to where the bright light and Heavenly host frightened those poor shepherds.

We are going to be the last children on earth to open a gift this year!

And we were still six verses shy of where “Mary pondered all these things in her heart.”

Good gosh Almighty, that miracle baby was going to be 12 years old before this chapter ends! If we’d a’had a puppy in one of those big boxes, it would have been full grown by the time it got unwrapped.

Anticipation is one thing. Waiting till the cows came home, or in this case, till this young child “increased in wisdom and statue, and in favour (King James couldn’t spell worth a hoot) with man and God” is a whole ’nother ballgame!

Leon allowed that we were the only family in town that opened our gifts while we ate lunch.

But we survived.

And so what if I can’t remember every toy train, every stick of peppermint, every snowball fight…..

What I do remember clearly and distinctly, like I can hear it in my head as I write this, is Mom reading the second Chapter of Luke. She ingrained it in us whether we needed it or not.

You talk about a gift for the ages……

Merry Christmas,


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