We learned early on that “dreaming of a white Christmas” in Arizona was exactly that; a dream. Probably better described in these parts as a “pipe dream”. While we couldn’t count on snow, we could count on other things, things, depending on the year, like toys, Levi’s, some flannel shirts, socks, and piles of turkey, stuffing, fruit salad, ham, baked beans and pumpkin pie. But the most relied upon Christmas Day ingredients, year after year, were laughter and tears.

When you stack onto everyday life’s obligations of Christmas time “to do lists” tempers can get short. Now kids are dumb, and I speak as an expert on the subject on behalf of me and my ‘less dumb now’ siblings, but kids feel the stress of their parents. Even if they can’t explain it.

There were some years, lean ones, that our parents stretched their dollars as far as they could, stretched to the point of snapping. The years after my dad’s back surgeries were tough, beans for dinner was the most common meal in those days. Christmases were lean. While we may not have had massive amounts of gifts, we had more than our fair share of laughter and tears.

There was one year my parents went in hawk to buy us a storybook Christmas. We scored. Well, most of us scored. Bobby, Sheral, and I all got new bicycles. Dean, the oldest, got a typewriter.

Kids can sometimes fool their parents, but they can never fool their siblings. Dean sat there pecking away on his Smith Corona, trying to pretend he liked it so he wouldn’t hurt my mom and dad’s feelings, but we knew better. We waited till we were outside, riding our new bikes, to laugh at our older brother’s predicament. We laughed so hard we cried… That’s what you call killing two birds with one stone.

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Sometimes when my dad read the Christmas story from Luke, our family tradition, my mom would have tears in her eyes. I knew she wasn’t completely sad, they were a mixture of thanks and knowing that it was a fallen and fleeting world.

My two grandsons got to open a gift yesterday. Their grandma got them some plastic hand extension contraptions. They’re about thirty inches long with a handle and grip trigger that makes the “U” on the end of the thing-a-ma-jig clamp together into an “O” in order to pick up things.

They laughed with delight… Eventually they turned into swords and they set about to inadvertently, in a dishonest way, beat the holy moly out of one another. Even their grandpa got a few whacks…

The cries soon faded and turned to laughing as I chased them through the house, armed with their gifts, one in each of my hands, as I pinched them lightly with their Christmas presents.

Come Christmas Eve there will be laughter. The foundations of memories will begin to build up and another gift of time and Christmas will come and go. I’ll fight back tears into watery eyes as I savor the moment and the gifts of God, namely the last perfect sacrifice of His Son.

I pray for my family and yours. May you be blessed, as we are, with years of laughter and tears this Christmas season. God bless.