Hello, is anyone listening?

It was a cold winter’s Christmas Eve night in Abilene, Texas. I was eleven or twelve years old, and there was something I wanted very badly for Christmas. I had told Santa, my parents, and anyone who would listen, what I most wanted—a pair of walkie-talkies! Honestly, I can’t remember ever wanting anything more as a child than walkie-talkies. I could just envision myself holding the little-transistorized boxes with the long metal whip-like antennas and talking to all my friends. Well, not all my friends—only those like me who had the walkie-talkies! In my mind, the first thing I would do is run across the street and knock on Jimmy Grant’s door. He wanted them too– and we’d both walk down the street talking to each other and ask, “Hey, is anybody out there listening

I remember getting up early that Christmas morning. Much earlier than the rest of the family. In my family, my parents would set out our presents while we children slept. Then, at some point, when all the children woke up early, we’d knock on our parent’s door and go into the living room to celebrate our Christmas. But this morning, I woke up especially early—before the others—and I went to see what was around that Christmas tree.

Ahhh, the Christmas tree! In 1960’s fashion sense, the tree was bedecked with aluminum branches that had stiff white plastic pine needles twisted throughout. This “Pine Needles” looked as though it were made from the same stuff like my sister’s stiff brushy hair curlers. The ‘60s were like that. But this morning the tree was especially glorious! A motorized revolving color wheel projected different colors of light upon the tree causing it to shine first green, then red, then an orangey-yellow and finally blue. And as these colored lights blasted the tree, there were reflections bouncing all over the place from the plastic icicles and glass ornaments.

I found my Christmas stash. More to the point I found “the box.” It was the perfect size for walkie-talkies. I picked the box up to shake it. No, it wasn’t clothes! Whatever it was inside made a definite thump upon the sides as I shook it. My walkie-talkies were assured! Relieved. I went back to bed to await the time when my sisters and family would gently knock on my door to awaken me and let me know it was now time for the family to assemble. It seemed like forever—but the knock finally came. Mom and dad were yawning and rubbing their eyes as they shuffled down the hall. My sisters were excited and

full of energy. I was feeling smug because I already knew what was there—but I would act surprised, and I would take my little secret of the early morning rendezvous to my grave.

We all went into the room to open our packages. First one person opened a package, then the next. Finally, it was my turn. Of course, I selected “the box.” “I wonder what’s inside?” I said coyly. I slowly unwrapped the box—taking my time and taking it all in. The last piece of paper fell away from the box. My eyes went up, and my mouth dropped, and I shouted, “Ohh!” Only it wasn’t the “Ohh” of faked surprise; it was the “Ohhh” of shock and disappointment. In the box before me was a nice big heavy Bible—with my name engraved in gold—and the words of Jesus in red! “Ohhh, thank you I said to my parents.” “How did you know?” “Yes, I see—that’s real leather. It is soft to the touch isn’t it?” “Oh, yes—I see where you and mom have written a special message. Very thoughtful.” “You thought about buying the bible after I was baptized but decided to wait until Christmas? Makes perfect sense.”

And, another eleven-year-old misses the meaning of Christmas. But I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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