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The late afternoon sun danced in the waters, reducing the Spanish moss-draped trees to silhouettes. Christmas jazz is competing with a huge Detroit diesel engine, but today they seem to complement each other. Christmas on the road is a happy occasion this year. Rather than labor in frustration to get home for Christmas, this year I scooped The Lovely Mrs. Carter up into the truck and we are spending the holiday on the road together. And, as luck would have it, we are driving to my hometown of Lake Charles, LA tomorrow to spend Christmas with the family.
Last night we drove through numerous small towns in Alabama, soaking in the lights, the Christmas trees in town squares, the reflection of our 18 wheeler lights mingling with Christmas lights in store windows. We are in Rayne, Louisiana tonight, where I’ve polished off some gumbo in a bowl large enough to accommodate a soccer ball. They know me here. While we were looking over the merchandise in the store, a gentleman who is both an employee and regular customer of the truck stop walked up to say hello. Russell has a thick Cajun accent, a twinkle in his eye, and a never ending stream of Cajun, zydeco, and swamp pop music pulsing through his headphones. Tonight’s selection? The Ave Maria. I suspect the pace of Russell’s music picked up because I later saw him dancing a little jig outside by the fuel pumps, coffee cup in hand, loving life. Christmas is a happy time on the bayou.
Tomorrow we will gather with family. Presents will be exchanged. But the most important gift is sometimes the hardest to give. Christmas is not a time for tally sheets or score cards. Most of the people I know aren’t moved by matching socks. In my humble opinion, it isn’t the stuff we leave in our wake, but rather the smiles we leave that touch the heart. The warm comment, the loving embrace, the little bit of our heart that we share with others, …those are the gifts upon which a price tag will never fit. That’s the spirit of Christmas. It’s the spirit of love itself, a love that has illuminated our paths and our lives ever since it first shone in Bethlehem.
As we say in this part of the world, here’s hoping you “pass a good time,” through the holidays. A special wish for safety and thanks to the very best of us serving in harm’s way. And from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.Published in