I am making a mighty effort to remain non-Scrooge-like throughout this Christmas season, but doing so is remarkably trying right now.
In the wee hours of December 6, a wonderful young woman, for whom I had solicited your prayers and asked you to send cards and such to bring her cheer, took flight to the other side of life. Kristiana Banks hung on and smiled as long as she could right up until the time she headed out to heaven — to make that place a little brighter.
Kristiana left a host of us weeping and wondering why she had to be taken away so young and so full of joy in life at such an early age. And I’m not sure that I understand that either, nor that I ever will, but I have come to accept that God’s will is just that and that it’s pretty hard to change His mind. Not impossible, because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it happen, but it takes lot of convincing.
It’s really hard for me to get into Christmas because both my mom and then my dad were buried, 10 years apart, ’73 and ’83 respectively, the day after Christmas. Talk about putting a crimp on your holiday and shutting Santa Claus down — that’ll do it every time.
At my dad’s funeral, an Old Regular Baptist preacher, I.D Back, found me leaning on an ancient sycamore tree there behind the Blair Branch Church on the bank of Rockhouse Creek — crying my eyes out. Little I.D. had preached Mom’s funeral 10 years earlier, at that same little country church and found me at the same spot before the funeral procession headed up the holler, nearly two miles to the graveyard.
“I know how you feel, son, but you have to come to realize that both of your parents got the best Christmas present they ever had. One of these days you will understand that.” I.D. patted me on the back and headed for the cemetery to do last rites.
It took nearly 30 years for me to accept that message and let it sink in. And now I believe that Kristiana and my mom and dad are on that other side and that they are not suffering. I am absolutely sure that they do not want to bring me down at Christmas. I hope that Ronnie and Fanny Banks, Kristiana’s parents, find wisdom in I.D.’s words much faster than I did.
I may not be the merriest guy in town — I’m not even trying — but I have stuff to wrap and a tree to put it under and I have grandkids to watch and wrestle when they open that stuff up.