This morning I was thinking Christmas thoughts, which I often do throughout the year, when the landline rang and MJ answered it. Lo and behold it was our dear friend from London, Jeff, telephoning to wish us a Merry Christmas. What a delight it was to be surprised by this unexpected Christmas Treat!
I have known Jeff since I was 12 years old…or 50 years! Over the past 9 years of our retirement we have visited Jeff and Margo, on 4 occasions…and each has been memorable. I, vividly recall; Aaron and Jonathon and I, planning a trip to the United Kingdom over a Holiday Pint at S & B’s Burger Joint that is in the University Mall in Carbondale, Illinois. As I enjoyed Dragon’s Milk I reveled in the possibility of the four of us traveling to the UK in 2016! This planning meeting occurred just before Christmas 2015…and it was so enjoyable that I and my two sons have frequented the establishment since that Premier Meeting!
I remember going to breakfast with my friend and colleague, Ken, during the Christmas Season of 2000 and asking him if he knew what houses were selling for in Carbondale? Ken had lived in Carbondale for many years and worked with me at Building Services, on the 3rd shift, as well as delivering the mail for the Post Office, during the day. We enjoyed Grand Slam Breakfasts at Denny’s and little did I know that I would be a Carbondale resident…in 3 months.
I think of the warmth that I felt, each year when I was an invited guest of Local #316 Service Employees Union, Christmas Dinner. As I walked from table to table of my friends who were enjoying a Christmas Lunch, I felt such acceptance and love from them…that they became my family!
Christmas with, Aaron and Jonathon and MJ, is such a special experience, each year, that I have to pinch myself to realize that I am not dreaming. I am part of a family that has given me so much joy and love and forbearance that I know that I am the luckiest man in the world!
I remember going to see the premier of the Walt Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp, in Chicago. Everything was magnificent and sensory cornucopia for a 3 year old! The strobing bright lights of the theatre marque and the crush of holiday shoppers, along with being with my, good friends, Steve and Susie, and my mom, and her best friend, Ivy.
The sculptured majesty of the theatre auditorium and the humongous screen, created an otherworldly experience. And that was all besides the fact that Susie was my girlfriend and I fell in love with Lady…during the course of the feature!
We spent several Christmases with our dear friends, Steve and Faye, first in Kingsport, Tennessee, and later in Gatlinburg. In Gatlinburg we would rent a condo and stay for a few days to enjoy the beautiful ambiance of the brilliantly lit city and the quaint shops and the, majestic, Smoky Mountains! A Christmas trip to Gatlinburg is not complete until you visit, Cades Cove. Cades Cove is a mountain village from the 1800s and it is mesmerizing and hypnotic. We like it so much, that many years ago we purchased a miniature Cades Cove Village. When I am in Gatlinburg…I am home!
We visited the Christmas Shop @ Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, when MJ and I visited in 2013. We were celebrating our anniversary and getting some time away after a difficult beginning to the year. As we spoke with one of the nicest people, who was working in the Shop, she thanked me for having the Christmas Spirit.
Each time that I enter our church @ First Presbyterian in Carbondale…I am transported into a Christmas frame of mind. From the numerous poinsettias to the Christmas Trees to the nativity and the singing of Christmas hymns and carols…the Presbyterians do Christmas right!