Christmas memories warm the heart

Joan Clayton

Many thoughts of Christmas return to mind this time of year — wonderful memories relived with blessings.
I was one of many cousins who descended upon our grandparents at Christmas time. Granny allowed me to sleep on a pallet by the lighted Christmas tree. The aroma of turkey cooking along with apple pies brought sugar plum dreams to my Christmas Eve. I awakened the next morning to find a little cedar chest, just right for storing secrets. The echoes of Granddaddy’s laughter still linger in my mind and fill my heart with joy.
Each time I hear Christmas songs I relive walking in the snow with my high school sweetheart. The sound of crunching snow and the warmth of his hand still gives me a “rush” today. Emmitt gave me a little heart locket that Christmas. When I show it to my grandchildren they say “Cool!”
One memory in particular is still embedded in my mind. In my first year of teaching, a mother came to my classroom the week before Christmas break.
“We’re having a hard Christmas, but I wanted to remember you.” She handed me a package wrapped in newspaper and tied with string. I thanked this precious mother of six children and told her the privilege of having her child in my room was a gift in itself. The mother smiled and wished me a “Merry Christmas” before she left.
I put the package in my desk and began my busy day. Johnny needed help with math. Sally needed a spelling review before the test. Several students needed extra help in language usage.
I’ll admit I thought about the package several times during the morning. I meant to “peek” at the first break, but other things demanded my attention. The afternoon became even busier.
Finally, tired and weary after a long and busy day, I gathered the papers I needed to grade and opened my desk to get my purse. The package, I had forgotten all about it. I’ll open it when I get home. I couldn’t wait to hit the couch and have a cup of tea.
What’s with the package?” my husband asked as I unloaded my school paraphernalia.
“Let’s see,” and I tore away the newspaper.
Inside the package was a coffee can … just a plain coffee can and inside the coffee can was a prune cake, a simple prune cake baked in the can!
My tears flowed as I told Emmitt of the mother’s gift earlier that morning. She had given it straight from her heart, an act of love, just for me. Her act of sacrifice reminded me of God’s great gift of love and the reason for the beautiful Christmas season.
“Let’s have some with our tea,” Emmitt said and he could hardly wait. Can you believe we ate the whole thing? We both agreed we had never eaten anything more delicious.
After 31 years of teaching, I still remember the taste of that wonderful cake and its meaning of sacrificial love. I have never had a gift before or since that impressed me as much.
What made that cake taste so good? The main ingredient was love.

Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is:
joan@yucca.net