We had the Christmas tree in the kitchen that year, next to the church bench on the long wall by the phone. Seemed strange to my brothers and me to come down the creaking stairs Christmas morning into the bleak, echoing living room where the very atmosphere was HARD and gaping. Hardwood floors, bare plastered walls, sharp corners, and high vaulted ceiling. Everything was unfamiliar after the summer fire that had taken that side of the house. Not even a whisper of past joy-filled Christmases remained.
But then we entered the kitchen where the coloured lights twinkled on the tree, and splayed into sprays, like fireworks, when we squinted our eyes at them. Mom already had Christmas breakfast baking in the oven, filling our beings with warmth and promises.
We sat down by the tree, Christmas oranges in hand, to listen to Dad read the Christmas story. But none of us could take our eyes off of the lone gift under, or rather, beside the tree. It was huge, oddly shaped, wrapped in a combination of newspaper and three different kinds of wrapping paper. My brothers and I exchanged wide-eyed wondering looks. Was it any wonder we couldn’t stay focused on the Christmas story? No matter. We all knew it off by heart anyway:
“… And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord…’”
Finally, permission was given and my brothers and I ripped into the paper to discover the trappings and skeleton of a trampoline!
Now, any rational parent living on the prairies would never give a trampoline for a Christmas gift. Where on earth do you put it in -30 degree weather? Not to mention four feet of snow? But my Dad was full of surprises. Calculating. Ingenious. He never did anything without thinking it through. When he realized that the living room would be rebuilt in time for Christmas, but that no furniture could grace it until spring, he contrived to fill it with a used trampoline for the winter. He was like that, my Dad, always finding ways of turning hard things into joy.
So that Christmas the stark living room was filled with squeals of joy as my brothers and I took turns jumping on our best gift ever, and shouting, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”
[This story was sparked by a writing prompt at Writers Cafe.]
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pkmousie/5304040347/">PKMousie</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>