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Christmas is upon us again and it's a time to rejoice on what this day really stands for. Sometimes the real meaning of Christmas gets lost in all the holiday shopping and the memories of past years.
Some memories are wonderful and others are heartbreaking. Yet, we still celebrate this most exciting holiday with all the joy possible.
My most precious memory of Christmas goes back to the years before 1988. I had six children who were always ready for Christmas. There was no sleeping. All I heard was, "Is it time now?" "When is it time to open the presents?" and "Don't you think it's time now?"
What a sight it was to see all six kids sitting around the Christmas tree, smiles as big as saucers, eyes glowing, just waiting. But they all knew they wouldn't get to open their own presents, well maybe one. But no more.
They all knew their sister was eager to open the others. She was my fifth child, Sheila.
What a sight she was. I swear she had more hands than all six of them put together. The other five didn't stand a chance. She snatched and grabbed every present from their hands and calmly opened it, then handed it to them.
None of them minded. That was just the way it was. Sheila loved Christmas and every present was meant for her to open.
The Christmas of 1988 was her last. But what a Christmas it was. Sheila went to her sister, Sandy's, home and saw a big box wrapped under the tree. It had Sandy's name on it. Well, there was nothing to do but open it and see what it was. It was a microwave.
Of course Sheila had to make sure it worked. They could always rewrap it. And that's what they did, laughing the whole time.
In 1989 Sheila was killed by a drunk driver. In 1991 my firstborn, Sherri, died of cervical cancer.
No need to say it was a few years before we had another good Christmas. Even after all these years the other four kids still wait for the time. They also still wait for the presents to be snatched from their hands and opened and handed back to them by Sheila.
Of course, that doesn't happen and tiny tears will trickle from their eyes.
We still celebrate our special Christmas with all the presents, lots to eat and smiles and tears together. We remember the past Christmases when one set of hands circled all of us and made us one.
Pannett lives in Tell City.