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HUCKABY: The real Christmas gift

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

I never wanted to be one of those parents who tried to relive their lives through their kids. I always encouraged them to live their own lives, make their own way and discover for themselves what paths they would take. It has worked out well so far, but, each of my children has become somewhat of a legacy of myself, despite the fact that I never encouraged them to be.

Dr. Jamie, our oldest, is most like me 12 times a year. Thirteen, counting bowl games. She has embroiled herself in incidents with opposing fans in every stadium in the SEC. Oops.

Our son, Jackson, is a teacher at North Oconee High School -- even though I tried to dissuade him from pursuing a career in education -- and is learning to coach girls basketball from Donnie Byrom. I coached girls basketball for 25 years and never dreamed that Jackson wanted to follow in those footsteps -- even though he was always a gym rat and with me at every practice and game. I've seen their team play half a dozen times and Jackson has a great teacher.

Our youngest child, Jenna, is a third-year student in the Henry Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. Her major is public relations, but I believe people will be reading what she writes for a long time. I thought I would treat you to a sample of her reflections on this year's Christmas season today. From her pen:

"Just wrapped up another lovely Christmas with my family. I love Christmastime in the Huckaby house. I love how Daddy puts up the biggest real tree he can find and tangles up as many colored lights in it as possible. I love pulling out the same decorations year after year and driving home from finals to see our house from the road with spotlights revealing wreaths and candles in every window. I love shopping with Mama and waging war on Black Friday with Nadia. I love the Christmas parties and listening to Daddy read our many fun versions of 'The Night Before Christmas.' I can't get enough of the movie 'Christmas Vacation' or of the Alabama Christmas album.

"I especially love Christmas Eve, when we sing 'Silent Night' by candlelight. I still play with the wax. Then we ride through the woods to Grandmama's house for dinner. Finally, we all sit by the fire, just before midnight, to read the real Christmas story from the Bible before heading upstairs to bed.

"On Christmas Day we are overwhelmed with gifts from our parents, who have spoiled us rotten over the years with every toy or technology we could ever want. I get a new journal from Daddy each year. We never leave the house on Christmas Day. Why would we? Everything and everyone we need are right here.

"Last year was bittersweet, with an unspoken fear in the air. It's hard to ignore thoughts that it might be someone's last Christmas when you're constantly getting discouraging news from so many doctors. But God has heard our prayers and Dad gave us another special Christmas this year, although having him around is worth more than everything under the tree.

"We learned not to take our family for granted last year. We still miss the big picture sometimes. We don't always get warnings that we are about to spend our last Christmas with a loved one.

"Mama's brother died suddenly in September. He was 54. We sure missed Uncle Eddie during this holiday season, but we kept him with us. He was reflected in our gifts and were grateful for the living gift that he has been to us over the years.

"We weren't the only family with empty seats around the table this year. There were many families in Connecticut that Santa didn't get to visit. Other families spent Christmas at the hospital. Others had loved ones stationed across the world, protecting our gift of freedom.

"Which brings me to the thing I love most about Christmas. We spend a month buying and wrapping gifts. We enjoy the love of those God has placed in our lives. But while these things will come and go year to year, the original Christmas gift will never be taken away and will never lose its meaning. We celebrate because God gave us a Son who would one day bear so much pain so that we no longer have to. When we accept that gift, it can't be returned or lost. It's the gift of hope and joy that we will never have a 'last Christmas' because we will one day join the multitude of hosts to celebrate Jesus for an eternity together with our brothers and sisters who have gone before and will follow.

"'I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'

"Merry Christmas, y'all. I hope yours was filled with peace and with joy as ours was."

That goes for me, too. God bless us, every one.

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.