THE CHRISTMAS GIFT THAT WAS
(Trussville, AL USA)
" Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above.....James 1:17
Each year when Christmas rolls around, my mind starts wandering back in time, and like it was only yesterday, I can remember getting that famous present in the mail. When I saw the return address I just knew by the size of the box what this most important of all presents was. Maybe I should back up and start from the beginning.
Growing up in the fifties was not as inventive as it is now. We didn't have all those modern day electronic devices. So we relied on such entertainments as sand lot baseball, rundown basketball courts with frayed nets, and playing marbles on the hard clay. It was about that time in my life that my illustrative career in basketball commenced. Not to brag, but early on in my Junior High career, my coach made the famous statement in front of the group that I was a "natural" at basketball.
It was also about that same time that I became obsessed with my Uncle Bill. You see, Uncle Bill had been a big basketball all-star in his life, from college into the pros. At one point, while on vacation with my parents, I even got to scrimmage with Uncle Bill. Though it was no contest, Bill felt sorry for me and let me win.
Let’s get back to the Christmas present. Mom agreed to me opening the present, even though Christmas was a month away. Boy, I just couldn't wait. What seemed an eternity was only a few minutes. As I tore open the wrapping, lo and behold, it was just as I thought; a basketball. But not just an ordinary basketball, for the attached note explained it was the basketball with which Uncle Bill had won the state championship. Now I couldn't wait to pump up the basketball and start playing. I just knew this ball had to have some mysterious powers that would transform my playing from Junior High School to the Pros. Just wait till I showed all my friends on our Pirates team!
Suddenly, all my excitement turned to grief that day. When I inserted the air needle into the basketball, the needle pushed the bladder into the basketball and my dream was ruined forever. You see, those old time basketballs were leather, with a rubber bladder inside. If the bladder happened to be detached inside the leather basketball, as my present did, the basketball would be beyond repair.
I can't remember how long I cried that day but it seemed as if my life was devastated forever. My illustrative basketball world had just come to an abrupt end. Nevertheless, Mom and Dad must have felt sorry for me that Christmas, as I received more gifts than ever before, including the "Roy Rogers" two-gun set with the official hat and spurs.
Well, my young years passed quickly and I wore out many more basketballs. Yet as life changed, I came to realize so do one’s priorities. The Bible states, "When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
I realize this short story kind of dated me. You see times were rough during this particular period of history. Purchasing any type of sports equipment was rather hard to do, expense-wise. So when I was privileged to obtain a basketball, I had to make it last. As a basketball had a genuine leather cover, I would keep it polished. Yes, by polishing it with brown shoe polish, I would keep the ball until the leather wore off. Having to play on what we referred to as "sand-lot ball", it didn't take long for the balls to wear out in the clay and dirt.
Those were happy times however, and I wouldn't exchange those good old times for any other periods of history. Living was simple, not like the highly competitive life style of today. You see, even as a youth I worshiped God and country, in that order. If we could only turn back time, in our work, our play, and our worship, what a time that would be! I can only dream though, and dream I do. What about you, beloved