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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Opinion

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Family Christmas
has different slant

Christmas at the Gunn house followed the same pattern each year. For months, we would pore over the Sears and Roebuck catalog to pick out the one or two gifts dearest to our hearts. Mama placed the order, and packages arrived at our rural route mailbox weeks before the big day.

Mama had a big trunk where she kept things she treasured safe from mice, and that is where she hid the Christmas presents. Nosey little kids may have peeked and fondled some of the gifts. I donít know for sure, and wouldnít tell if I did.

A few days before Christmas, Daddy took us to the cedar breaks along the Caprock to pick out a tree, which he chopped down with an ax and hauled in a wagon pulled by horses or in the bed of the 1928 Buick we had later.

Mama popped some corn for us to string and drape over the branches. We cut out snowflakes and other ornaments from whatever paper we could find. A few years, we were rich enough to buy colored paper, which we cut into strips, then chained the strips together.

On Christmas Eve, we each hung a sock near the wood, coal or kerosene stove in the living room, anticipating Santa would fill it with oranges, apples, nuts and hard candy. Sleep evaded us as we listened for sleigh bells and the tap tap of reindeer hooves on the roof. I even saw Santa one year when he peeked into our bedroom.

Morning dawned to find us already around the tree, ready for the gifts. My, how exciting to open a box and find that walking, talking doll or birthstone ring from Sears. While we five siblings played with our treasures, Mama wrung the neck of the hen she had caught the night before and helfdcaptive under a tub. We had a sumptuous dinner of chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes and green beans, instead of the usual daily fare of beans and cornbread.

This year I will fly to St. Louis for Christmas. Granddaughter Dana and I will take one day for shopping and visiting with her brother, Scott, Laura and Houston, her first nephew and my third great-grandchild. They will divide their time on Christmas day between Dana and Scottís Dad and Lauraís family. I may try to see them too, sometime during my weeklong stay.

Peggy Lynn, Dana and I plan an early-morning gift exchange on Christmas Day and dinner that evening. We will be more stuffed than the turkey when it is over. Tuesday, I fly back to Midland for another Christmas with son David and his family. Great-granddauther Jasmine will spend Christmas day with her Dad and paternal grandparents in Del Rio, then join David for the trip to Midland on Monday to spend the rest of the school holidays with her mother.

David promised to replace some blown-off shingles on my roof, so they will come on to Pecos for a day.

Nowadays, Christmas has to be spread over several days to get in visits with all the family. Although I regret not knowing my grandparents, sometimes I think the little family gatherings we had beat the hustle and bustle of todayís celebrations. We didnít have much, but we werenít stressed to the max, either.

I am not the first to take a long trip to celebrate the birth of Jesus, though. As soon as Mary learned she was to bear the Christ child, she left Galilee and hurried to the home of her cousin, Elizabeth, in the hill country of Judea. That visit lasted three months. Donít you know there was a whole lot of celebrating going on?

ďMy soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.Ē Luke 1:46, NIV

EDITORíS NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. Contact her at peg2@pecos.net

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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