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Christmas experiences past, the reason for the season

I’m 76 years old but I can still remember Christmas times when I was a child. I can remember the excitement that mounted as Christmas drew near. We almost always put up and decorated a wild tree that my father cut from somewhere on our small farm. As I remember, most of our trees each year were Cedars but occasionally White Pines graced our living room.
My parents somehow managed to buy extra food during the Christmas season. Oranges, tangerines, chocolates, fruitcake and nuts were absent from our pantry most of the year, but come Christmas we found the money for those foods somehow. After all it was Christmas and Christmas only came once a year.

Of course the radio programs featured a variety of Christmas carols. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer,” was a very popular Christmas song following Gene Autry’s recording of it in 1949. I was 10 years old in 1949 and I enjoyed hearing that song over and over.
As a small child, I always found some toys under the tree on Christmas morning. One that I vividly remember was a die cast metal truck with a dump bed. It was large as toys went in those days — about 18 inches long as I recall. I played with that truck many days in the dirt bank that was near our house. That truck is long gone and I hope some other youngsters enjoyed it as much as I did. And sometimes I wonder what the value of it would be now to a collector.

One of my great joys as a youngster during the Christmas season was visiting my grandparents. They didn’t live far away. We all lived in the Seventh Civil District of Johnson County. In fact, to visit my widowed grandmother, Sarah Fina Swift, I only had to walk a short distance, cross a creek and a road and I was there. She often had some chocolates to share with me. I only have pictures of my grandfather, David Elkanah Swift. He passed away in 1909 long before I was born.
My maternal grandparents were Noah Webster and Mary Ellen Victoria Gentry Harper. They lived on a farm that lay along a portion of Highway 67 West. Often when we visited them some of my cousins would be there and we would play the day away.

The church my family attended almost always put on a Christmas play. In my teen years, I often was called upon to play one the characters in the play. I pored over my lines faithfully in preparation for the big night. While Hollywood never contacted me, I guess I did all right in the acting department.

While I look back to Christmases of times past, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is the time each year when the birth of Christ is celebrated. Some people are quick to point out that Christmas Day is not the actual date of that miraculous day. Yet, it is a day set aside to recognize and remember Jesus’ birth.

Amid all the commercialization and celebration, may we not forget the real meaning of Christmas — The birth of a Saviour. Luke 2: 10 and 11(KJV) reads: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”