Recollections of childhood Christmases hold cherished moments and are as unique to each of us as our fingerprints or DNA.  I recall somewhere in my single-digit years that I was so in love with milk, I wanted Santa to drop off a cow at the Preston household.  Tonka, Milton Bradley, Hasbro, or the Mattel company just wasn’t cutting it for me this year.  We lived in a middle-class neighborhood with modest homes, sidewalks, and asphalt streets so the feasibility outweighed the everything else of my outlandish request.  I might as well have asked for the Apollo 16 Command Module because neither was going to happen.  Needless to say, when I awoke on the 25th and looked out into the backyard and all I saw was our old Sears, white, metal tool shed with dew dripping from its sloped roof, my heart sank to my stomach like a skydiver with no parachute.  My older cousins Buster and Fred Johnson( my father’s age) came by our green, cinder block house each Christmas morning usually around 9:00 a.m.  They could sense something was wrong with me this year and after given details of the circumstances, they both went on to inform me with the rationale of a lawyer, the impossibility of caring for a cow in the city.  Traditions are simply something that is handed down.  After my dad had passed and Fred became too weak to travel door to door in his black Cutlass Supreme all dressed up with his patented Fedora accompanied by his always matching leather jacket, we all, including my mom, assembled an unofficial procession and took Christmas to him.  When his wife, Betty, called out to him in the bedroom and told him he had company, immediately upon seeing the Preston clan which had grown from seven boys and now included spouses and kids of our own; he wept.  I shall never forget that display of family, appreciation, and love for as long as I live.  Seven years ago, I married my wife Desiree and inherited a beautiful, magical granddaughter named Chanice.  I started a tradition of going to all neighborhoods in Jacksonville and looking at the decorative lights on Christmas Eve.  Our trip always include  a hot cup of cocoa, carols, and a stop at Kuhn’s Florist Christmas display where we take pictures and glare at the wonder of it all.  I was moved a few months ago when she and I was having a conversation and she told me how important that was to her and how she plans to do the same with her grandchildren.  My eyes welled up like I had been doing a 100 m.p.h. in a convertible with no windshield.  She is now 13 and is still interested in hanging out with granddaddy and nana to celebrate the birthday of our Savior.  My dad used to make chitlins and hoghead cheese for the yuletide season.  My brother now is the head cheese maker and I simmer the chittlins to perfection.  Traditions are the handing down of customs, beliefs, and ways of life!  They are your family’s institution.

  • Sandra Stevens

    Awesome read will purchase book for Christmas.

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