By Kesley Colbert
Someone asked about my most memorable Christmas. I cheated and said, “They are all memorable.” It was an easy and ready available retort. And it didn’t take any thought.
And it had a touch of merit. How could you say opening that Buck Rogers’ official 25th Century Ray Gun as a five year old in one of the first Christmas mornings you could actually remember not be “memorable.” I got to shoot my older brother, our cat Mittens, a few plastic army men….Daddy actually grabbed his chest and fell off the couch when he got hit.
The Christmas David Mark and I got those Western Flyer bikes was about as good as it gets. They WERE a surprise! And I didn’t give a flying hoot how Santa got them down the chimney. We rode those things for years. They widened our world by a whole heap and a half. We could be anywhere in town in a matter of minutes….
The Timex watch when I was ten years old might have been the best gift I ever received. It was exactly what I wanted. And it cost WAY more than our average gifts. My whole family (including two brothers who got a less expensive present that year) sacrificed for me to have that watch. You don’t forget something like that. Ever!
That shock proof, anti-magnetic, glow in the dark—with a red sweep second hand and a genuine leather band—Timex started a love affair with watches, clocks and time that endures to this day.
The political correct answer would be our first baby’s first Christmas. You can’t believe the fuss we made hanging that ornament on the tree! Well, my wife and I, her mom and my parents made the fuss. Josh, who was born on November 29th didn’t even roll over when “his” first Christmas spotlight fell on him.
I’ve never had a bad Christmas. Although honesty compels me to report I never got that pony I always wanted. And a girl that I was actually quite fond of “once upon a time” sat down at our kitchen table a few days before Christmas and told me she didn’t love me anymore.
You know, in retrospect, her eyes did set a little too close to each other. She had kinda fleshy arms. She didn’t like Faron Young music…..
My most memorable Christmas began on August 15, 1965. Mother let me out at the University of the South to start my college journey. Folks, I was 212 miles away from home. Everybody on the football team ran over me every day! Nobody got up and made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich right before bedtime.
And the classes were hard! College professors didn’t love me like Miss Carolyn Blades did in the first grade. They didn’t inspire me like Miss Velna Gray Paschall did in junior high. Miss Barbara Clark didn’t just teach 10th grade English. She opened up the world of Charles Dickens, the rhyme of Alfred Noyes and the macabre of Edgar Allan Poe.
Those professors expected you to know everything the first day and get smarter as the semester progressed. I was behind in every class, behind in football, behind in my job waiting tables at Gailor Hall. I was so far behind I couldn’t even see the back end of the tunnel!
And the fact that I was dumb as a rock didn’t exactly work in my favor.
Indian summer s-l-o-w-l-y melted into late fall. It turned cold and foggy. And then it began to sleet or snow every day. My whole world turned black and white. It was like all color evaporated with the freezing temperatures.
I would never admit this to anyone and if you repeat it, I will come after you…. I’d lay awake night after night staring at the ceiling and crying. I have never been so lost and alone.
I gutted it out until Christmas break.
Mom picked me up after my last exam and I drove us home. As I rounded the curve out where Eddie Carden used to live on the right, right before you get to the traffic light—Brummitt Funeral Home sits there now—my heart near ’bout pumped itself right out of my chest!
I was home! Safe! That old, familiar intersection was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen! I was back where I belonged; with a family, and actually a whole town, who loved me….and didn’t care if I was college material or not.
I get goose bumps, like right now, every time I think of that precious homecoming.
My most memorable Christmas didn’t have anything to do with chestnuts roasting by an open fire, neatly wrapped presents under the tree or stockings hanging with care….
And it was all in bright, vivid, peacock living color!
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