Christmas Long Ago

Christmas Long Ago by Loretta Ann Keathley

The article is by Loretta Ann Keathley and the co-runner up of the 1st Annual Conway Scene Short Story Contest.

On a freezing dark winter night long ago, the sky was lit up with thousands of beautiful stars shining down on this Christmas Eve. Our family was busy getting things ready for Christ-mas day. I had decorated our tree with some homemade garland made of popcorn and string the night before. The star for the top will be made of cardboard cut into a star’s shape and covered with foil. These decorations looked so pretty against the dark branches of the cedar tree.

This tree is special you see. There it stood, the perfect tree. A huge cedar that we found just down the hill from our house. The only problem was, I needed the top part to get the perfect shape I was looking for. Timmy, my cousin, came along with me to cut it down. He did not hesitate. Up he went to the top of the tree, hacksaw in hand, and cut the top right out of this awesome tree. It was perfect!

This year was a very special one. My first Christmas being adopted. Yes, I was chosen out of unconditional love.

My grandparents chose me to love and cherish as their own. When I was just a baby, I would cling to my grandmother as if she were my mother. She was always there for me with a heart full of love and kindness. That’s just who she was. My biological parents traveled around a lot for work, leaving me with my grandparents.

When I reached the age of twelve, my grandparents decided to pursue the legal aspect of adoption, making me legally theirs. A good education was a top priority to them. They encouraged me to get my education often throughout my life. As a result, I absolutely loved school my whole life. I am sure it had everything to do with their attitude toward education and me getting one, that influenced me over the years.

Person Holding Rocking Horse Christmas Ornament
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

As I look back to this time so long ago, many wonderful memories flood my heart and mind. During my growing up years, the love and guidance shown to me has sustained me throughout my entire life. Granted, I have had many ups and downs, bridges to cross, roads to take, but through it, all I could hear my grandmother’s voice saying, where there’s a will, there’s a way. She encouraged me never to give up and to keep pressing forward, with my head held high. I came through a lot of situations in life with wisdom and life lessons learned.

Christmas time was a happy time for my grandparents. Nothing made them happier than to make things fun and happy for all their grandchildren. Grandmother was in the kitchen, making her pies that she so enjoys making every year.

She would ask each one of us what kind of pie we want this Christmas. Then she does her very best to make them all. Pecan is my favorite. Butterscotch for my uncle Larry. Cherry for my aunt Mary. Chocolate for my grandfather. The joy on each face is all the reward she needs. Making the pies is one of her favorite Christmas traditions. My grandmother was famous for her cooking. Everyone wanted to eat at her table. If I could only be just a tiny bit like her, I would be grateful. She was a most special person, to say the least.

My grandfather loved Christmas as well. He made sure we each had our stocking hung by the fire before going off to bed. We were sure to find an apple, an orange, and lots of hard candy in our stocking on Christmas morning. Our grandfather was also full of pranks to make us laugh with excitement. He would usually include a prank toy of some sort that would make us jump with excitement or terror, depending on which spider or alligator toy you got, all to his amusement.

Woman Wearing Brown Coat in Snowfall
Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

I am almost finished decorating our tree, and it won’t be long until we are nestled into our warm beds. My grandmother put several quilts on my bed, getting it warm and cozy for me. Back in those days, we never kept our heat on at night. Those quilts kept me warm against the cold air of the night. First thing in the morning, my grandparents would be up early getting the fires going to keep us all warm. Before I go to sleep, I want to look outside once again at the beautiful dark sky with thousands of stars shining down. I’m so wishing it would snow on this Christmas Eve. Then all of a sudden, I see it, huge snowflakes coming down as never before. I’m full of excitement. I just know I won’t be able to get to sleep tonight, but I must; tomorrow is Christmas and snow. Who could ask for anything more?

Now, as I am getting ready for Christmas Eve and my family, all of the wonderful memories of Christmas long ago are here with me on this cold dark winter’s night. Time has gone by so fast. My loving grandparents are no longer with us, but their memory lives on through each of us. Now I’m a grandmother, and I must get busy in the kitchen, making my pies for my family.

The tree is up and smells so pleasant, a live cedar, my favorite. Its branches strong and standing tall. Homemade decorations, as well as a few new ones, bring it to life. Red, silver, gold and blue, all look so pretty against the dark green branches. There’s my string of popcorn garland to add to its wonderful charm. Tonight, my heart is full of so much love as I wait patiently for my grandchildren to arrive on this Christmas Eve night. My heart and arms will be open wide to greet them with love, yes, an unconditional love. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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