OPINION: Christmas Eve memories stay strong

Christmas Eve is just about the most wonderful day of the year, to me.
It’s filled with excitement and mystery, with family and friends.
Just to speak the phrase conjures up memories still so vivid among others that have faded into obscurity across my own decades.
When my sister and I became teenagers, my mother decided we’d host a little Christmas Eve celebration at the house before we headed to late-night church services.
Folks dropped by and we’d have a most delightful time. Usually.
One Christmas Eve someone invited/allowed our neighbor Leo into Mama’s living room. And it was Mama’s – white carpet, pretty upholstered furniture, Daddy’s handmade cherry coffee tables, original art.
Leo was a dear but misguided young man with a bit of an alcohol problem. He entered, obviously already enjoying a bit of Christmas cheer.
As the night developed, we saw Leo show some warning signs for the side-effects of such behavior.
My mother looked around at who was going to get him to the front porch away from her carpet. If memory serves me, either my mischievous brother or my counselor brother-in-law did the honors, and everyone else – especially Mama – was mightily relieved.
Leo was relieved, too, but in another way.
The other story is different, but it speaks to each of our potential.
I only learned about this from a man, who spoke at the funeral of my children’s father.
A few years before their birth, their father’s friend was going through a rough time personally and professionally. Nothing seemed to be working for him, despite his intellect and charm.
He was very down emotionally, even to the point where he may have told himself there just wasn’t any point in going on.
That Christmas Eve, he drew near his breaking point.
The kids’ dad, then just a no-kids married guy, called his friend to wish him Merry Christmas. He learned, from their chat, how seriously depressed his friend was.
I know just how to cheer you up, he said to his friend. I’m taking you over to Patsy’s mother’s house – it’s just what you need.
Sure enough, they came to the party and within a short time, everyone was full of cheer and happy to be alive. The friend, especially.
At that funeral, many years later, tears fell from the friend’s eyes, his voice broke with grief at the memory of the kindness shown to him on that cold, bleak Christmas Eve night.
And he thanked God in heaven for such a friend, and for such a family that would welcome him with such love and joy, especially when he needed it so much.
For one night in our lives, we should all find a way to make such a difference in someone’s life.
For the baby whose birth we celebrate after midnight, that miracle is celebrated through the ages.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

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