by Gail Denham
They asked me what I missed most
about Redmond, Oregon,
so I replied…
We had Christmas lights then, all the store
windows had seasonal displays. It was such
a fun time. Dreams ran high. Kids stood
for long minutes, gazing at toys displayed
at Redmond Hardware where my dad worked.
Years before, in another store, my dad built
a huge erector set for Christmas. Here, in these
windows, sat Red-Ryder B-B guns, drum sets,
a sparkling Schwinn bike, plus drink and wet dolls.
One day in early December, we vacated our town, briefly,
set off for Portland, each kid to spend carefully our $10.00
chits at Monkey Wards, small gifts to put under the tree.
We went to the woods for our tree outside Redmond,
hung ornaments, lights, brightened it all with strips
of tinsel, a real bear to take out when the tree dried,
but wonderful brilliant light in our small living room.
I would sit for hours, staring and dreaming, viewing
the pile of fancy-wrapped packages under that tree.
The kids' Christmas musical came, bringing smiles
of delight to parents who watched their child scratch
and squirm, turn to watch the back row, and occasionally
sing, on the Sunday evening before the holiday.
Daddy always read the Christmas story before
we could dive into the wrapping under the tree.
I thought of those poor, scared shepherds,
minding their own business, having a cup of tea
after the sheep bedded down. Then suddenly
the sky opened with a bang.
Angels singing, giving instructions to go worship
the special baby wrapped and lying in a cow shed,
destined to grow up and tend to his Father's
business in the world.
The snow had come, not much right yet, but enough
for me to drag my sled, after gift sharing, over
to Diane's to show off what I got, and compare.
Simple times, happy with the smallest gift, feeling
blessed in this quiet town where about now, everyone
was home—mother basting the turkey, peeling potatoes,
probably slapping Daddy's hand when he tried to dip into
the pumpkin pie. I'd need to scurry back and whip
up the cream for the topping. Then there would come
the peaceful joy in exploring and trying out our gifts
before heading for bed with happy smiles.