A few days before Chrismas day a twelve year old, or there abouts, boy was examining the presents under the tree with overt excitement, looking for one or more with his name written on it.
He was joking, I suspect, although he never said as much. Heartbroken, is the only word to describe how terrible the boy felt. He never got over it, sad to say. That feeling is as vivid today as it was that snowy winter's evening in front of the Christmas tree in the bungalow on Oak street.
There were plenty of gifts with his name on them the next morning, but the wound carrys the scar left by that careless comment so many, many years ago.
Why it was almost as devastating as the news imparted to him just a few years before that, by smartalec friends, that there was no Santa Claus.
Christmas, to this descendant of Irish- French-Canadian immigrants raised in the Roman Catholic church, is a big deal. But the emphasis and manor of celebrating the festival of the Messiah has changed with the years.
Jesus and his family got top billing over Santa in those early formative years of 9 0'clock masses with Aunt Nellie and in later years, midnight mass with mom and dad and singing in the choir. Puberty raised its head and it was midnight mass with the girl friend and walks on Currier and Ives snowy winter nights holding hands and kissing and full of the future. Funny how a Christmas without snow just doesn't seem like Christmas, unless of course you're from Texas, or Florida, or Bethlehem.
With marriage and children this reformed catholic migrated to the Methodist church so as to raise his children with the guidance of christian principles without the concomitant guilt of the catholic dogma. Then came the Christmas pageants and midnight services. And Jesus once again had top billing. But Santa was in a dead heat for first place in the festival.
Haven't been to church in quite sometime now, except for weddings and funerals, not even at Christmas. Don't talk to Jesus anymore, but I do talk with his mother and father most everyday. We have two creche displays set up in our home; one is a set of santons that we found in a brocante in the south of France, the other is a large collection of Fontanini pieces. Yes, there is a tree and other baubles of the season and even a few outside lights. And candles; cinnamon smelling candles; let's not forget them. Christmas card aplenty are in evidence too.
So now I listen to Bing, and Nat, and Gene Autry. I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle choir and I try to find the Christ in Christmas. I try not to think about the wars and poverty and hunger here and throughout the world, because if we all believed in Christmas we would see those travesties disappear. I buy toys for my grand children and wonder why they think that Christmas is about Santa.
I smile and say Merry Christmas to everyone I meet. At home I eat ginger bread boys and drink hot chocolate and watch the snow cover the ground outside the kitchen window and I hope.
I hope that Grandpa Walton's Christmas wish , (listen)will fill everyone's heart and that the world will be a better place; if only for one day every year.
Merry Christmas one and all: God bless us, everyone.