Christmas, of course, brings all kinds of memories flooding to our senses. There are the Christmas decorations, such as trees, nativities, greenery, and brightly-wrapped presents; the smells of evergreen, apple and pumpkin pie, turkey, and freshly-baked goodies.
And if you are from the country, it means hunting and enjoying small game stew on Christmas Eve. If you are a true country boy, the holidays mean hunting. Most men folk think about deer, elk, boar, or what we call big game. I think more about the small joys of life: limb chicken (squirrel), fur bucks (rabbit), and whistle pigs (ground hog).
We have talked in the past about my dad’s love of hunting and fishing, but nothing screams holidays to me like my dad and I going hunting on Christmas Eve. My dad, Uncle Obe, Clay (my cousin), and yours truly would head out on a cool, wet morning in search of these southern delicacies. The most unusual thing about this small game was it all tasted like chicken. After beef and fish, God decided everything should taste like chicken. No judgment until you’ve tried it! Although this was a Christmas tradition it was always peppered with stories that, to this day, make me laugh and reflect on lessons of my youth.
When I was about 12 years old, we headed out early in the morning to a farm near my great uncle’s house. The morning was cool and wet. The grass was just turning from frost-covered to wet, and within two minutes, you went from cold to wet and cold. Walking alone, you would encounter fence rows. Some fences were barbed wire, some were wooden, and others were electric. There are two things that don’t mix: electric fences and wet blue jeans.
Being the shortest of the hunters, I would tend to be in the back and watch those in front. My great uncle always carried a walking stick. He walked to the fence, and carefully holding the electrified wire with his walking stick, he stepped over. My dad just put his hand on the post and effortlessly sprang over the fence. My cousin, Clay, used a handy, forked stick he found to push the fence down so he could cross. This all seemed a little complicated and like overkill to me.
I merely took my trusty side-by-side .410 shotgun, placed the stock on the electric fence, pushed the wire down and straddled the fence. Did I mention I was wet? Halfway across the fence, the wooden stock of my shotgun slipped, and the electric fence sprang back. Now, there is nothing that will wake you up and motivate you to move faster than an electric fence on wet blue jeans—especially when the wire is strategically-placed! I got the lesson of my life, and my family had a story that some still tell to this day.
Holidays are also a great time to focus on the future: where we are and where we want to be. Here are a few of my personal, favorite thoughts:
- When you get stuck, sometimes a push is all you need!
- If at first you don’t succeed, don’t do the same thing again.
- Stop wishing and start doing.
- Sometimes confidence is better than competence.
- Some folks hunt for happiness all their lives. Others find it wherever they go!
Michelle, Becky, Deb, and I wish you the happiest of the holiday season. Our hope is that the warmth of the season and the memory of why this time is special as we welcome those around us with the love of Christ in your heart. May your memories always be joyful—and your jeans dry!
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to you and yours.