When I was a boy my mother played three Christmas albums over and over again. I loved them. I can still close my eyes and open my heart and hear them somewhere deep in my soul. I would cherish digital versions of them for my iPod.
When I was in high school in the late seventies platform shoes, aviator glasses, polyester-double-knit leisure suits and eight-track tapes were in fashion. Mercifully, the season passed. Eight track tapes were replaced by cassette tapes.
In about 1983 Smiley Brownfield sold me a nice, used Ford Fairmont. It was very clean. He made me a good deal on the car. I was a little doubtful about my purchase and when he called to tell me to pick up the car I tried backed out. He asked me what I wanted that the car didn’t have. I said; “I really wanted a cassette deck.”
He said; “Come and pick it up this afternoon and it will have a cassette player in it. I will include it in the purchase price.” That afternoon I picked up my car and listened to music on the way home. I have warm memories of cold days in our snug car listening to Christmas music on the way to our families to celebrate or looking at Christmas lights with the children.
When Lois and I began to grow a family of our own I wanted our home to be filled with beautiful Christmas music. My tradition was to start the Christmas music on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day. In November of 1994 we were driving along Route 3 toward Mt. Vernon, Ohio and the little village of Bangs. We were listening to a cassette tape of Christmas music and I said; “From now on we will start listening to Christmas music every year on Thanksgiving Day in the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny, especially beautiful Thanksgiving and the memory lodged in my mind. The children agreed.
For years I longed to own quality stereo receiver and a cassette tape deck so I could listen to my collection of music, especially at Christmastime. One year I was able to purchase the receiver. The next year I had saved the money to add the tape deck. Not just any deck would do. I needed a dual deck so I could make copies of my tapes. I purchased a deck that matched my receiver and went to work for hours making cassette tapes of my Christmas music that would play all day.
Back then it was a lot of work, but it was worth it. For twenty years, we didn’t have a television. In those years we had many hours of uninterrupted mayhem and occasions of blissful joy. I planned my ministry in a way that when the children were small I was home a lot to be with them and raise them. It was a conscious decision and I’ve never regretted it. Since we taught them at home we spent a lot of time together. We were especially close.
The nights leading up to Christmas we were home often. I wrote or read or read aloud to the children. The girls baked cookies. The boys made trouble and all the while the Christmas music played on my dual cassette deck. At night sometimes I would lie in the hallway and play carols on my harmonica until the children settled into sleep.
We went to a lot of trouble to see to it that the children would never doubt our love for them, our love for Christmas, and our deep, abiding love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Now they are marrying and moving away. I long for them to have the joy we had when they were small. I still pray for them that the music of Christ and of Christmas will never fade from their hearts no matter how dark or difficult things may get for them.
December 5, 2011