A Time to Reflect on Christmas Eve Pasts

By Steve Graf

As a child growing up in East Texas, I can remember the anticipation of Santa making his annual visit to the Graf household. There’s something special about being a kid and still believing the man in the red suit is coming to MY house tonight. I remember trying to decide what time to go bed. Would I finally be able to get a glimpse of the man himself? What would really happen if he saw me? Is it true that if he sees you awake, he won’t leave any presents? Would I get all the gifts I had asked for? Was I good enough for the whole year or just the month of December? All day you had the anxiety of Santa’s coming tonight!

Now that all those questions have been answered, let me continue by taking you back to my days as a young boy. My Christmas lists were always long and full of your typical boy toys…G.I. Joe, bicycle, BB gun, football or basketball, bow and arrows, my first wrist watch and oh and fresh underwear that mom thought I need every year! Then one year I got the best gift ever…my first shotgun! It was at this Christmas my dad decided to hand me down his old Remington Wingmaster 870 20-gauge shotgun that his dad gave him. To this day, nothing has ever topped that and probably nothing ever will. It was then official, at the ripe old age of 10, I was a hunter now with my own shotgun! Nothing else in the world mattered that day other than how quick I needed to get to the woods and kill a few squirrels or maybe sneak up over the dam on one of our ranch ponds and pot shot a duck or two. Over the years I’ve killed a many a squirrel, a buck or two, lots of ducks and even a few dove and quail with that gun. The full choke barrel is not the best for dove or quail but I’ve made it work. Today, 49 years later that gun is still as special to me as it was the day, I got it. Not because of all the wildlife I’ve taken with it but, the fact that my dad and granddad used this same gun to put wild game on the table. Every time I pick up this gun for any reason, I feel that special bond between me and the two men that held it before.    

Well let us fast forward 50 years later. Today it’s still amazing to me the spirit of Christmas is still alive with anticipation but it has a whole different meaning now. Our kids are all grown and gone but they all make it home for Christmas and we’ll reminisce about Christmas’s gone by. As a parent you always wanted to get your kids what they asked for and most of the time, we made that happen. You hope as a parent that you did a good job of making their Christmas’s special. But during all our time looking back, not one time did they mention a gift they had received or not received. We tried to teach our kids that Christmas is not about the gifts you receive but more about spending time with family and friends. Today to gifts are nice and all but we’ve decided it’s more important in how we spend this time together. Playing games with cousins and grandparents and the most important part…eating! Now I’m not a sweets guy, I’m more about the turkey and dressing but for the rest of my family, it’s all about the dessert table. That’s right, I said dessert table… that’s got more sugar on it than a sugar cane field can grow in one year. But with each passing Christmas we have learned to appreciate still getting everyone together.

But this Christmas, things will be a little different, Covid 19 has invaded our world and turned it upside down. Even this past Thanksgiving we were not able to get together like we have before. Social distancing has become the new norm and we will find different ways to celebrate even if we can’t all be together. But, by not having this special time together, maybe it will make us appreciate it more when we all get the vaccine and can once again come together as family. In the meantime, we’ll have to find other ways to communicate like Zoom meetings and face timing each other in order to celebrate this Christmas season. Who knows maybe letter writing will make a return! Probably not because we’re too lazy now to do that and most of the young people today can barely write their name thanks to computers. I’ll wrap this up by saying “Merry Christmas” everyone and I hope each of you have a special holiday season! To all the anglers out there, “Don’t forget to set the hook!”