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The holidays are a time to visit and enjoy the company of old friends.
One close acquaintance comes to mind each Christmas season. He’s always ready for a good time and displays a constant, warm grin beneath smiling blue eyes and chubby cheeks.
Our first meeting was uneventful, not much more than a passing glance. Who would have thought that weeks later, he would come to live in my house. I don’t remember all the circumstances because I was not quite 4. My parents shared the details as one of those oft-repeated family tales.
When I lined up for my first ever meeting with Santa, he stood quietly in the aisle near the front window of a cinder block building along Dixie that was then known as Radcliff Department Store.
As the story goes, I asked Santa for a bouncing horse. There was a Palamino pony ride in the store. That’s what I wanted. I was very clear, even pointing to it during the description.
But instead, Santa delivered the bouncing donkey in the same aisle. There he stood on Christmas morning with a goofy, buck tooth grin and oversized ears.
My little boy response was predictable but not so pleasant.
“What’s the matter with Santa Claus. I told him that I wanted the horse, not this silly donkey.”
The little boy never bounced on the donkey but he didn’t seem to notice. That silly grin remained constant.
He ended up being parked at the end of the hallway near the entrance to my bedroom. Over the years, dozens of cousins tried him out, running stationary races along that hallway. Later, my own daughters, nieces and nephews took imaginary trips.
During various moves, he’s made the trip with our family, living in attics, garages and now in the basement storage room. And his faithful smile remains constant.
Somewhere in my early adulthood, hearing the story of the donkey’s unwelcomed Christmas arrival, I realized what a disappointment that must have been to my parents. They devoted such energy and sacrifice making each Christmas morning delightfully exciting.
So years after the little boy shattered a Christmas morning with his disappointment, the young man finally apologized to his mother for being unappreciative.
It was an unnecessary apology. I had long ago been forgiven without even expressing remorse or sorrow. Moms are like that.
Christmas is like that too. It’s a symbol of forgiveness made available although undeserved and unrequested. All that remains is for us to recognize our guilt and claim it.
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at email@example.com or (270) 505-1764.