These memories sweeter than Christmas

Published 2:23 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It was going to be a holiday column filled with sweet Christmas memories. You know the memories I mean, visions of sugarplums, reindeer, stockings and times when our skin could hardly hold all of our bottled up excitement.

That was the plan a few days ago, but when it comes to writing, plans have a way of changing when the muse comes calling. If I try to say no to its urgings, it is a waste of energy. So, I listen and I write.

In the midst of holiday gaiety, I heard that Tubby Hall died and a floodgate of memories opened. Like so many from Opp, this man touched my life and showed me what a truly good person looks like.

He was Little League baseball coach to both of my boys and I was so happy they were on his team. Tubby thought teaching kids to be good sports was just as important as winning games. This was something I wanted my sons to understand.

Not only did he take time with them during scheduled practices, he often spent time with them between practices working on basics. He’d call and ask if he could pick them up and take them to the ball field. I always said yes.

Later, when my boys were past Little League age and I was working at the hospital, Tubby and his late wife “Little Bit” were two of my most dependable and loyal volunteers. They were right there helping me as we planned the Tree of Lights celebration at Christmas each year and in attendance the day we lighted the tree.

I thought about how Tubby passing away on his wedding anniversary was such a loss for Opp. What kept coming to my mind was, “another person from my childhood is gone.”

Then my mother called to tell me my oldest cousin, Ken Helms, died. More memories and emotions poured in. I remembered his laugh. He had a great laugh.

I could see him sitting in my grandmother’s house when we all gathered for the annual Christmas meal. It felt like such a short time ago when we were kids playing and laughing, cousins who came together on holidays, reconnecting every year until we became the grownups with families of our own.

Ken was another one of the good guys who did a lot for others and left behind a wonderful legacy for those who knew him.

During this time of year, this season of light, writing about losing the light these people brought to life is not, as I said, what I planned. Then in the midst of struggling with not wanting to write a sad or depressing piece something occurred to me.

It is only sad if I forget the meaning and lesson of Christmas. For me, the gift, the promise of this holiday is love. It’s a time to celebrate how the birth of a child who lived a love-centered life shows us love is an energy that does not cease to exist.

So maybe this is a column filled with Christmas memories. No, it’s not recollections of reindeer, stuffed stockings and candy canes.

These memories are much sweeter because they are of people who blessed my life and shared some of my holidays. I see their passing as a reminder to cherish the people who are still here with me, my precious family and friends.

The older I get, Christmases seem to come and go much faster, and sadly, more folks who peopled my childhood pass away. That’s how life works, but I have a choice in how I view it.

So, this year as I say goodbye to those no longer here, I hold the sweetness of their memories close and smile as I remember them. And, I celebrate the great gift of being here for another Christmas to laugh and to love and to be with the people who shine their light into my life.

Merry Christmas and God Bless us Everyone.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.