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Darrell Huckaby: Christmas binds us all a little closer together

Christmas binds us all closer together

Merry Christmas, y'all.

A lot of people have expounded on Christmas Day over the years. Alexander Smith once wrote that "Christmas is the day that holds all time together." That may or may not be true, I suppose, but despite the best efforts of the political correctness police, we still date time by it.

Carol Nelson opined, "Christmas is a time when you get homesick -- even if you are at home." It took me a long time to fully understand what she meant by that statement, but this year her meaning is crystal clear.

Charles Dickens' curmudgeonly character Ebenezer Scrooge once said of Christmas, "Bah! Humbug!" Eventually, however, the old scoundrel had a change of heart and it was said of him "that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

And Norman Vincent Peale said, "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." I hope your day is soft and beautiful and that you are spending it with people you love, and who love you back.

Christmas was such a magical day when I was a child. Santa would have filled the socks my sister and I hung by the chimney with oranges and tangerines and a few pieces of hard candy. If times were good he might have left a toy or three under our tiny icicle-laden tree. Even if times were not so good there would be something special. But the feeling of love and contentment that permeated our little four-room house has a much more permanent presence in the recesses of my heart than any six-shooter or toy train I might have received.

Christmas Day changed exponentially when I left home and had children of my own. I don't think I've been wide awake on Christmas Day since Santa brought the first "some assembly required" gift to our first child -- and there was a stretch of years during which I dreaded the arrival of the day after Christmas Eve, because it was filled with stress and a hectic schedule and high expectations that no mere mortal could possibly fulfill.

For years we would whisk our children away from their new toys to have breakfast here and lunch there and supper at yet another relative's house -- all joyful gatherings, to be sure -- but they all overlapped and . . . well, you've probably been there, so you understand.

When my mother passed away, a week before Christmas, a dozen years ago, I vowed that I would never get in an automobile on Christmas Day again as long as I should live -- not even to attend church. So far I have kept that rather selfish promise -- but with my own children now grown, we may soon embrace an entirely different routine on this most holy of days.

Some folks don't have that luxury, of course. Disease doesn't take the day off and newborns pay no attention to the calendar, so doctors and nurses and other caregivers are, right now, helping make other people's holiday as merry as possible. Law enforcement officers are on duty and so are EMTs and firefighters and you'd think retail outlets could take one day a year off -- but you'd be wrong. Somebody's got to sell the batteries and cigarettes and other necessities. And God bless the folks at Waffle House because travelers need to eat. And let us never forget the men and women of the Armed Forces who are scattered across the globe on our behalf.

It is Christmas Day. After weeks of anticipation and stress and shopping and spending, the presents have been -- or will soon be -- opened and the Yule log, at least figuratively, is ablaze and, hopefully, the Christ child, whose birth precipitated all the madness and all the magic of the season that culminates today -- hopefully the Christ child won't be lost under all the discarded wrapping paper and tinsel.

This has been a unique holiday season for me, and I have made every effort to relish each and every facet of the festivities. Christina Rosetti, in 1885, wrote "love came down at Christmas" and this Christmas the love of hundreds of friends, many of whom I know only through the pages of this newspaper, has enveloped me as tightly as the swaddling clothes that bound Mary and Joseph's newborn in that Bethlehem manger, two centuries ago. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Charles Dickens, however, who was much more eloquent with than I, wrote, "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

So, too, will I. I say again, Merry Christmas, y'all.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.