(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.