A Christmas Long Ago

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(This is a repost of a story about Papa Bear that I originally posted on my blog on Christmas Eve 2014.)

Christmas is a magical time in the eyes of children, and although Johnny Mac was old now, with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of his own, he could still remember Christmas as a little boy back on his Grandfather’s farm in Missouri.

How excited he had been when his grandfather told him to get his heavy coat and gloves so that he could go along with him to cut down a Christmas tree. Together they had scoured the woods looking for the perfect cedar tree to bring home for the big living room of the old farm house.

At last Johnny’s grandfather had pointed out one that he thought was just right, and he told little Johnny to look underneath the branches at the base of the tree to see if he would be able to reach it with the chainsaw.

Just as Johnny got down on his hands and knees to examine the tree trunk, all the snow from the branches above came falling down on top of him, covering him in a thick blanket of white.

Johnny squealed as the cold snow slid down the collar of his jacket. From up above he heard his grandfather’s deep voice booming with laughter as he shook the branches. Johnny laughed too, as he scrambled to his feet and brushed off the snow; and in no time at all the tall cedar tree had been cut down and loaded in the back of the old pickup truck, and they were headed for home.

Fifty-five years later, Johnny Mac still remembered that trip to the woods, the sound of his grandfather’s laughter, and the twinkle in his grandfather’s eyes on Christmas Eve when Johnny unwrapped the big box with his name on it to find the electric train set that his grandfather had gotten from the owner of a local grocery store in exchange for fresh butter and eggs from the farm.

Times were hard back then and there wasn’t extra cash for presents, and while the train wasn’t brand new – having belonged to the store owner’s son until he tired of it, it was still bright and shiny in it’s original box, and to Johnny it was the very best Christmas present ever.

Thinking back on those days of long ago, Johnny Mac sighed, realizing that Christmas back then was all about the love behind the gifts, and not about their price, and he wished things were still like that now.

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Sister Update 12/11/18

Just wanted you all to know that my sister Wanda got through chemo round one okay today. It took about six hours, and she is now home snuggled up with Taffy, weary and resting. She thoroughly enjoyed two visits from therapy dogs during her session, a Rottweiler and a St. Bernard. 😊

She learned that she will actually be doing three monthly cycles of chemo, once a week for three weeks and then a week off, so she won’t be finished with that until the end of February, and then the surgery can be scheduled for bladder removal. We are taking it day by day, and she wanted me to express her appreciation for the outpouring of love and prayers! ♥️

Christmas Stockings

My father sent these Christmas Stockings to me years ago as he was sorting through his possessions when preparing to move from his house to a small apartment. These are the stockings that my mom made for my two sisters and me when we were small, and we hung them with great excitement every Christmas while we were growing up. When I got them from Dad I packed them away with my other Christmas things, and they have remained In the box since then.

This year when Papa Bear and I began sorting through the many boxes that we have had in storage for the past 10 years, I pulled out the Christmas boxes and found the stockings where I had placed them. I got them out to take this picture to share with my sisters, and I immediately realized that this was the perfect time for them to hang together once again on my wall. You see, this Christmas our relationship as sisters has become more important than ever before…

Last September it came as a shock to all of us when my sister Wanda, who is two years older than me, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer. Since then she has undergone two surgical procedures, one in which a tumor the size of a lime was removed from her bladder.

Thus began a series of doctor appointments, tests, and consultations leading up to this week where the reality of life with cancer comes to the forefront. As I write this she is attending a chemo education class at the cancer center just a few miles from her home in Minnesota, and tomorrow morning she will return there for the first of four weekly chemo sessions. Once these have been completed she is to to be scheduled for surgery to remove her bladder in hopes of eliminating the cancer.

My sister lives alone but she has a few good friends who will be there to support her, and her daughter Kari who lives nearby will be there for her too. My younger sister Connie and I will be cheering her on by phone call and text, and we will be praying extra hard for God to banish the cancer from her body.

We all know someone who has died of cancer, friends or family. Papa Bear’s late wife died from breast cancer. He knows the struggle all too well. But we also know those who have fought the battle, survived, and have gone on to live cancer free lives.

Wanda’s faith is strong, as is that of our family who surround her. Although Christmas is a hard time to be going through chemo her house is decorated for the holidays as are ours, and we are trusting in God and praying for miracles.

Three Christmas stockings hang on my wall, and across the miles three sisters in their 60’s are holding tightly to each other’s hands and hearts as we walk this scary road together. I will post updates in the weeks ahead. Your prayers for my sister Wanda (and her daughter) will be much appreciated. ♥️♥️♥️