Posted by: Jim E | December 10, 2010

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

There are a million of them I suppose…Christmas stories, that is…I know I have a few to tell…and in the next few days I will let you read some…some are mine…some written by others…some just picked out of the air because they were there…

Let me go back about 16 years ago…I remember that time for a number of reasons…let me tell you of a couple…(and that couple are the stories I want to tell)…I was an assistant principal at a large high school, in Minnesota, at the time…anyway, I was still working…not retired, as I am now…that would seem like a long time ago to many of you…but now being in my dotage, that seems like just a few years…it was 1994…

I tell this story because I told it to the staff of our high school 3 years later when I was then the principal of the school…that was 1997…at Christmas I always wrote something for the staff…and read a story to the kids over the intercom…one of those will come in a later post…(reading to 15-18 year olds, over the intercom, is somewhat of a challenge and risk…but on the other hand, they love to be read to…so it worked)…but this one I wrote in an email to the staff…so, the very short story is from 1994 but shared with the staff in 1997…with a bit of editing, here it is:

“This year all our four boys, wives and families will be home for Christmas…it has been 3 years since all have been home…it will be good…

I grew up in a background where there was not much in the way of ‘things’…and like many of you, have endured some other hardships in our lives…and there will be more for all of us…but I have learned…in life, pain is inevitable but misery is optional…that it is not how we began but what we’ve become..and the ability to turn the sorrows of life into joy…

So, 3 years ago when our kids came home…I asked for one thing…just an evening, after all the grandkids were asleep…and for all of us to sit down and talk…we ended up around the Christmas tree in the family room with just the tree lights on…and in that glow, Judie and I began with a family history…generations back and up to the present…and then the journey of our life together…our struggles and triumphs, as husband and wife, as mother and father, and all of us as a family…and there were questions about how this went and that…there were tears, love…a wonderful time…a celebration…

For celebration comes from something good…and this is what I wish for you…peace and joy…to thank you and to celebrate this Christmas season together…”

I wrote that to the staff and one of the responses was a story in itself from a teacher who I worked with for years…I think it will touch you as it did me:

“That takes me back to my youth on the plains of North Dakota, when on Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother packed a shoebox of items to give to an old bachelor neighbor who lived by the river a mile south of us…I can still see the box and its contents: cookies, a Christmas napkin, a new handkerchief and a tin of Prince Albert pipe tobacco…About four o’clock, my dad and I walked to his place and gave it to him…It was a Hallmark scene and I can still see the snow falling and hear and feel the wind as it made small drifts on the path in the pasture…That was a long time ago, but I still take a walk on Christmas Eve afternoon around four o’clock…Even though my father has been gone for seventeen years, he still goes along just like he did on that special trip so long ago”…

Two short stories…I wish you Joy and Peace…and wonderful memories…

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