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advent day 9 - Mary Manners

Today's blog comes from author Mary Manners


Christmas Lights

When the subject of Christmas gifts comes up, most people think of packages wrapped in colorful paper and shimmery bows, sitting under the Christmas tree, just waiting to be opened.

When I think of Christmas gifts, I think of my dad, who passed away ten years ago this holiday season. He was a man of many gifts, including the joy he shared for the traditions of Christmas.

Dad loved light—especially the light that brightened a fresh-cut pine tree in honor of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each December first, like clockwork, Dad piled his family—all seven of us—into our Chevy station wagon and drove us to the tree lot where, shivering in the Chicago-winter cold, we oohed and aahed over each and every tree until we found the perfect one.

Once home, with the tree safely arranged in a metal stand and watered, Dad climbed the ladder to our attic (a mysterious place, indeed) where the Christmas lights were stored. He’d lower the battered cardboard box (re-used, season after season) to the floor below and dust it off.

Then my brother and sisters—five of us—gathered ’round him in the living room and waited, eyes huge with wonder, as he carefully unraveled the strands of lights and tested each one. No matter how stubborn the bulbs, dad always managed to get them working.

Beautiful, vibrant colors turned the room to a kaleidoscope, dancing over walls and windows with the feel of winter magic. One by one, my siblings and I each took the place of honor beside Dad, helping him to adorn the tree with light. Pine sap clung to our fingers, but we didn’t care. All the while, our hearts soared with happiness and child-like wonder.

Finally, dad gently gathered the Christmas star from the box. Hushed with awe, we waited while Dad chose one of us to hoist to his shoulders for the greatest thrill—placing the treasured beacon of light—the Baby Jesus Star—atop the highest limb. Somehow, Dad always sensed who needed that extra touch of attention, and there was never any argument.

With the lights in place (just in time for nightfall—always) we circled the tree and held hands to sing Silent Night. In the earliest years, the tune didn’t always carry and the words were sometimes off, but Dad didn’t care. He knew we understood what the tree—and especially the lights—symbolized…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. The most wonderful gift of all!

Mary Manners is an award-winning author of inspirational romance who lives in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband and teen-aged daughter. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Smoky Mountain Romance Writers.

During the school year, she teaches middle-schoolers reading and Algebra. In her free time, she likes to garden, take long walks with her husband, and read romance novels in a hammock beneath century-old shade trees.

Visit Mary

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Comments

Delia Latham said…
What a beautiful memory, Mary! Thanks for allowing us to share in this blessing.
Mary Manners said…
Thanks, Delia. And thanks to Clare, also, for hosting me!
Dora Hiers said…
My heart breaks for families who lose loved ones at this time of year, but, thankfully, you savor a special Christmas memory of your father, Mary. Thanks for sharing from your heart.

Merry Christmas, Mary and Clare!
LoRee Peery said…
What a treasured memory, Mary. I'm sure you've created memories as part of your legacy.
K.M. Daughters said…
A beautiful, magical memory - the essence of the season. Thank you, Mary. And since I'm still tramping around in the Chicago-cold (snow dusting the pines this morning), your story sure evoked the senses. :-) Merry Christmas and blessings in the new year.
Donna B said…
What wonderful Christmas memories - thank you so much for sharing them!
Mary Manners said…
Thank you all for your sweet comments. Chicago...that's where I grew up, and where this memory of my dad was made. How cool is that?

My daughter, who will be 18 in a few months, still climbs the ladder her dad and I hold to place the star atop our Christmas tree. It's become such a tradition. She was the first grandchild, and my dad (her grandfather) used to hold her up to put the star on my parents' tree, as well, before he passed away. It's one of her favorite memories, too. I'm looking forward to the day when she will carry on the tradition with her own children.

God bless and Merry Christmas to each of you!

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