On a cold Christmas night, a young girl sits eagerly waiting to take her treasured Christmas gift for a trial run. She inserts a sheet of paper and winds it around the cylinder of a shiny new Brother typewriter. It's the gift she had hoped for since her adolescent eyes first spied it during a visit to the local Western Auto store.
She stares at the piece of paper. What should she type? A letter to a friend? A list of her favorite Top 40 songs? A birthday wish list? Perhaps a short story?
Slowly, her fingers carefully begin to tap on the keys, pecking out the title to her first work: A Christmas Story. Soon, a holiday vignette — written with the wide-eyed innocence of a 'tween — emerges onto the page. The story sets a brief scene about gift giving, Christmas decorations, falling snow and sharing the joy of the season with loved ones.
* * * * *
I like to take out the piece of paper from time to time, unfold it and read it again. It demonstrates to me the power of words. Each time I take in those words, I am taken back to a long ago winter night when a little girl used her Christmas gift to create what would become a gift to her older self. And each time I read that Christmas story, I find a sense of comfort in my life choices and the inspiration to keep practicing what I love.
Why did I want the typewriter? I don't clearly remember. Perhaps I fashioned myself a budding writer even then. I remember viewing episodes of The Waltons and wistfully watching as John Boy, the aspiring writer, sat at his window in the evening light putting pen to paper. Back then, I had no way of knowing that writing would be my unique gift and become my life's work. Perhaps my mother saw a gift in me then that I had not yet realized myself.
Recently, I was flipping through TV channels when a familiar face caught my eye. It was John Walton Jr. himself, after all these years, come to visit me again through the medium of television. Even now, I can hear the familiar refrains of the Waltons wishing each other sweet dreams.
When I turn out the light on this December night, I will say a silent goodnight to the woman who gave me many gifts, including one that impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined. She was an angel then and is with the angels now.
Goodnight, Mama. Goodnight, writers. Goodnight, readers. Goodnight, everyone.
Is there a Christmas memory from your childhood that still takes you back in time? Did you receive a special Christmas gift that impacted your life? Please share your thoughts in the Comments.