Time for an inspiring Christmas recollection from author Molly Stevens from her archive.
The year Dad taught me the deeper meaning of Christmas by Molly Stevens
Courtesy depositphotos: used with permission
I was nine years old and excited to add another successful Christmas pageant to my resume. I did a spectacular job delivering my single line and was basking in the applause, anxious to sample the hard candy and peanuts doled out as we exited Perham Baptist Church.
We walked to the car listening to the crunch of snow under our boots mesmerized by a brilliant sky. We were going to celebrate Christmas tomorrow! There would be gifts and turkey and pie, and did I mention gifts?
All was right with the world.
When Dad turned the corner driving us home, we noticed a glow on the horizon. In my childlike faith, I wondered if God was guiding us to our destination like he led the Magi to the Christ child so many years ago.
As Dad continued to negotiate the familiar roadway, it became apparent this was no ordinary light and the contentment I felt turned to terror.
There was a house on fire. And it looked like it was ours.
I broke the tense silence with this question, “Is our house on fire, Daddy?” There was no reassuring reply. Instead, I heard, “I don’t know Molly, but we will soon see.”
The five-mile ride seemed interminable. We held our breath as we crested the hill and saw flames consuming our next door neighbors’ home.
I’m not sure what happened next. I might have started crying, Mum and Dad probably took audible gasps of horrifying relief, and it’s likely my brother Marvin ‘tapped’ me on the head to irritate me, demonstrating that our world was still intact.
When I arose the next day despite my excitement about Santa Claus and the joy of a new doll, I knew things were different. Cinders left black stains on the snow in our backyard. Mum and Dad looked exhausted, and I saw tracks around the house, proof they had spent the night monitoring the shower of sparks that threatened to ignite our roof.
There was palpable grief as we realized our beloved neighbors had lost everything.
But I was a kid and kids live for Christmas. All I wanted to do was play with my toys, enjoy our family time, and forget the trauma of the night before.
I was very young in these photos but I never lost my enthusiasm for a new doll
My father, however, was restless. He wasn’t a big Christmas guy anyway. He thought there was too much emphasis on presents, outraged that people spent more than they could afford on gifts that were broken by day’s end.
He disappeared, and I didn’t notice since I was busy dressing my new doll in her homemade clothes. When we sat down for Christmas dinner, I saw that his chair was empty.
“Where’s Daddy?” I asked. Mum replied, “He’s out collecting donations for the Ericksons.”
I don’t think I threw a full-blown tantrum because my mother had hurled a glass of ice water on that habit a few years earlier, but I’m sure I whined, “Why can’t he be with us?” I felt sorry for our neighbors, but it was Christmas and couldn’t he wait a few days?
Years later when I was slightly less self-centered, I realized Dad was right about Christmas. Sure it was about presents and mincemeat pie and pageants, but there was so much more to it than those things.
It was about loving your neighbor as yourself even when it was not convenient.
Dad came home beaming after completing his collection. I don’t remember how much he amassed, but his Christmas spirit was contagious as he recounted how people with very little had opened their wallets to give what they could.
I’ll always remember that Christmas mixed with tragedy and hope. And I’m forever thankful for the lesson my father taught me about its deeper meaning.
Can you share a story about your discovery of the deeper meaning of Christmas? How do you show love to your neighbor?
About Boomer on the Ledge.
Do you believe aging is grim? Something to tolerate while waiting for the reaper? Be prepared to challenge this assumption when you read: Introducing: Boomer on the Ledge.™ Molly Stevens observed her grandsons discovering Christmas magic with an elf who monitored their behavior and reported it to Santa. As invasive as that seemed, she realized no one watches people in her age group unless scanning for signs of dementia. She felt invisible and needed validation. So she created a little doll whose daily surprises reminded her how being a boomer is both harrowing and hilarious. From the mundane to the sublime, let Boomer on the Ledge™ help you transform grim into grins while you explore the antics of an aging boomer.
A recent review for the book
I’ve read and enjoyed many humor books in my life, but I’ve never seen one quite like Molly Stevens’ “Boomer on the Ledge.” The book stars a doll version of Ms. Stevens, who puts her skillfully constructed “mini-me” into various photographed situations accompanied by the author’s comedic/clever/poignant text. The result is a LOT of originality packed into approximately 30 pages – from a writer who also packs tons of laughs and humanity into her award-winning “Shallow Reflections” blog.
You can buy the book from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Boomer-Ledge-Molly-Stevens-ebook/dp/B075YBHMZ7
and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Boomer-Ledge-Molly-Stevens-ebook/dp/B075YBHMZ7
About Molly Stevens
Molly Stevens arrived late to the writing desk but is forever grateful her second act took this direction instead of karaoke or trampling competitors at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Molly believes humor is the emollient that soothes life’s rough patches and promotes these convictions in her blog: Shallow Reflections. She won third place in the 2017 National Society of Newspaper Columnists writing contest and is a contributing author for These Summer Months: Stories from the Late Orphan Project, edited by Anne Born.
She is a featured contributor for Humor Outcasts and part of the Bangor Daily News blogging network. Her guest posts have appeared on: Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, Better after 50, Sizzling Towards 60, Mostly Blogging, and Sixty and Me. Molly grew up on a potato farm in northern Maine, where she wore a snowsuit over both her Halloween costume and her Easter dress. She lives in central Maine, and when she’s not writing, working or watching the New England Patriots win super bowls, she and her husband, Patrick, love to spend time with their son, daughter-in-law and two perfect grandsons. This is Molly’s first book.
Connect to Molly through her blog and social Media.