As I think back to my Christmas pasts, there are a few that come to mind. My very first Christmas was at Edwards Air Force Base in 1958, but I don’t remember that one since I was an infant. The first one I recall is Christmas 1963. We were living in Pasadena, TX. My Dad had recently been transferred to a new facility that was in the process of being built called NASA. My brothers and I could not wait for Christmas morning to wake up to our dreams come true. We had gone through the Sears Catalog which to me was so magical to pick out what we wanted most. Honestly, I do not recall what we got but I do remember the blinding lights of the movie camera. I could not wait for that thing to go away.

Fast forward a few years to when I was ten years old in 1968. My family owned a cabin on a lake in East Texas. This cabin was made from cedar and had a beautiful smell when you walked through the front door. There was a Franklin Stove in the main room that was used to heat the non-insulated structure. There were two bedrooms off the great room on either side of the cabin. My brothers and I slept in one, Mom and Dad slept in the one on the other side. There was one bathroom next to the kitchen. When it was cold outside, it was cold inside except for right in front of the Franklin Stove. I remember waking up Christmas morning to a paralyzing cold and trying to get that stove lit as quickly as I could. I don’t recall anything we received as gifts, only the time with my brothers and parents. That is the best of memories.

Fast forward again to the mid 1990’s. Watching Will and Allison see for the first-time what Santa left them with excitement. Seeing their excitement made my heart warm. All the Christmases with Jennifer, Will, and Allison were all special, but they seem to blend into one. That is until last year. We had lost most everything to the Hurricane Harvey Flood a few months before. Will was home for Christmas break from college, so we were all together in our house. The floors were bare concrete and all we had for furniture was lawn chairs. We did have real beds however and that was such a blessing. The only dishes we had were what was giving to us by a local church, we had only four of everything, which was plenty. On Christmas morning we were in our living room that had plastic draped over our fireplace, and construction tools were nearby. We had a folding table that served as our kitchen that had our coffee maker on it along with other kitchen things. There was a dorm size refrigerator under the table. We had everything we needed. We exchanged gifts and were enjoying a time of being together. Allison dropped her empty coffee cup, it shattered on the concrete floor. There was a short moment of silence, then we laughed. What else could we do?

Thinking back over the years to the many Christmases, it is the times when we did not have much, and things were uncomfortable that I recall with the fondest memories. It is because we were all together.