This piece by Ron Williams traditionally ran in The News Journal each Christmas. We at Town Square Delaware always loved this column, and we’re pleased to feature it here.
December 22, 1994
Well, your favorite time of the year has come around again. The weather has been a little weird so far, with temperatures more like a crispy Halloween than the first week of winter. As usual there’s absolutely no chance of a white Christmas. I don’t think you ever forgot those years when we did have snow. They were something special.
It’s hard to imagine-and I guess no one really thinks about this beforehand-that you won’t be here to watch us open those presents you always had wrapped by Labor Day.
And that was easily your biggest thrill of Christmas. You never asked us kids for anything. I guess you really never got over doing the Santa Claus thing.
You probably don’t know this, but grandmom once told me how there were Christmases when you were a kid that a pair of shoes may have been the extent of what was around the tree. I’m sure that’s why you always started asking about gift ideas in the summer and why you usually talked Dad into spending more on us kids than he had planned.
Brother and his family were at the house last weekend. We did the traditional stuff, emptying the faded old Christmas stockings of their toothbrushes, miniature chocolates, aftershave lotion, gag gifts and the Pez dispensers.
Watching the colorful squad of plastic Donald Ducks, Goofys and Santas assemble along the coffee table brought a cold tightness to my stomach. These Pez dispensers weren’t the same as the ones you stuffed in the stocking dozens of Christmases before. These weren’t from you. You wouldn’t have left them in their plastic packages. That’s just not the way you did the stocking.
An Adult Orphan
It all happened so fast, you know. In April you were sick. In July you were gone. In December I was an adult orphan trying clumsily to empty a Christmas stocking that only you had ever before stuffed. There was no longer a reason to feign interest in the spring-loaded coin holder I would never use, or the Elvis key chain. Just kidding.
Things were missing from the stocking this year. The ballpoint pens. The money clip. The picket-size tick-tack-toe game. I often wondered where you found all those doodads. But I never had to wonder if brother had the same number of them in his stocking. I may be the oldest, but at Christmastime we were always equal. Remember?
The eggnog was good. We had the ham dinner and as usual your daughter-in-law outdid herself. There were great desserts.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t play. Neither did Penn State because they’re going to the Orange Bowl. But you would have found some team of the day and enjoyed the game, as long as your guys won.
It all began winding down around midnight. The little kids were in bed asleep. The big kids were nodding off.
The next morning we drove to the cemetery. Everything looks fine. The wreath is a brilliant green with large red ribbons. Nothing fancy, you always said.
This weekend we’ll exchange some gifts with the in-laws. We’ll be back by early afternoon. No real plans. No phone call this year. Maybe I’ll look at some snapshots of last year’s Christmas. No, never mind.
Well, gotta go. You take care now. And Mom, Merry Christmas.
Email Ron Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.