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As a child growing up in Summit, age 4 or 5, I remember walking a short distance with my mother to visit my Aunt Belle on Christmas Eve night and a miracle happened. When we returned home, Santa had been there with toys, fruit, orange slice candy and a big peppermint stick.
Moving on up a few years to age 12 or 13, I still believed. I recognized my brother Darold’s writing on my Christmas presents but I didn’t let anyone know. I figured Santa and Mrs. Claus needed a helper. I was very happy with the basketball game, which was a ping-pong ball you flipped a flipper with your finger and hoped it would hit the goal.
As I became an adult, I thought, my high school years, I became the shopper for my mother and daddy since their health wasn’t good. They wanted me to be sure their grandson, Robie, had presents for Christmas.
When Ronnie and I married, he told me his family never made a very big deal about Christmas presents, so I had some work to do about that. He soon decided it was a big deal.
After our children Rhonda and Blake came along, I loved helping Santa prepare for their Christmas. Santa jumped right in there with lots of suggestions. One year the Schwinn banana-seat bikes were a big hit. The children always got new pajamas on Christmas Eve to make the pictures look good the next morning.
One special memory is when Blake and I went out to a tree farm, cut a very tall tree that would reach up to our open balcony. It was so big we had to wrap it in a sheet to squeeze it into the front door. I think Rhonda put the topper on from the balcony. When we took the tree down, Ronnie took the chain saw to cut its branches and it was a very funny sight. He wasn’t too pleased with us.
Later came the grandchildren, Rachel, Molly and Braden. We went to each of their homes on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought. I encouraged Ronnie to make them something each Christmas, sign it on the bottom and add the date so they would have something to remember him by.
I am so glad he did. We lost him Dec. 5, 2010. The grandchildren now have their doll beds, crayon trucks, chairs, wagons and many other pieces he made.
These wooden treasures began as handmade presents but soon became family traditions and now serve as memorials to a grandfather’s devotion and love. Those gifts continue to give.
We are carrying on our traditions as Ronnie told us to do. We will have Christmas Eve at our house with my family and my brother Darold’s family. Our children and grandchildren will come back on Christmas night for leftovers and a family gift exchange.
Christmas is a wonderful family time of the year. Cherish every moment.
Barbara Richardson Proffitt of Vine Grove is involved in several community organizations and works as community relations coordinator at Hardin Memorial Hospital.