By my friend, Ben

It were Christmas Eve an’ I were headin’ home after the service at the church, but I had one more stop to make. I did. On the seat beside me were a special cake I’d baked. It were a secret recipe passed on to ma by her ma, an’ accordin’ to ma, her ma’s ma before her. That cake were one a the things that made Christmas special as far back as I could remember. It were.

Why I had that cake with me were because I’d remembered ma’d baked one for ol’ John William Jackson the Christmas before she died. She did. Ol’ John were known as the Scrooge of Hickory Ridge. He were. He were even known to yell at folks what were carolin’ on the street. T’ tell the truth, he even looked like the pictures of Scrooge I’d seen. So I were a bit surprised when ma told pa to drive her out to ol’ John’s place so she could give him one a her special cakes. I were. Fact were, it seemed a bit of a waste to me. It did.

Just like I’d heard he’d do, ol’ John came out on the porch with his shotgun raised slightly. That is, until he saw it were ma. It were perty much agreed on that anybody what would hurt Lizzy Harrison would go straight to hell, right on the spot. So ol’ John lowered his gun an’ come out to the truck. He did. Ma got out an’ handed him that there cake. She said, “Merry Christmas, John.” Well, ol’ John looked a little like he’d seen Marley’s ghost. He did. Then he said he didn’t believe in Christmas an’ didn’t need no
present. Ma said her cake weren’t no present, it were a gift. An’ a gift were somethin’ what were more important to the giver than the one what were the receiver. She did. She told ol’ John she knowed he were a gentleman an’ he wouldn’t want to hurt a lady’s feelin’s. She did. Well, ol’ John looked at her an’ never said a word. He just took the cake an’ went in the house. He did

I don’t know why, but after all these years I had the notion that ma wanted ol’ John to have another cake. I did. So there I were headin’ down Stinkin’ Creek Road takin’ ol’ John ma’s Christmas cake.

It were nigh on to eight o’clock an as dark as could be when I drove up to the house. Ol’ John’s dog told him I were out there, but I made it to the porch before he got the door open. I did. He looked right upset. He did. The gun was a little higher than I were comfortable with. Fact were, it were right about my chest. I told him my ma sent him one of her Christmas cakes. I did. He said, “Yer, ma’s been dead for ten years!” I told him I knowed that, but I reckoned ma thought it were about time for him to have another one. I did. As he took the cake I told him Merry Christmas. He told me to “git” an’ slammed the door.

On Christmas mornin’ before I could head out with some presents for Sara Jane an’ Billy Joe’s kids, ol’ Blue let out a string of howls. He did. I looked out an’ saw ol’ John Williams’ truck passin’ the barn an’ headin’ for the house. It were. When I stepped out on the porch he were getting’ outta the truck with a little box in his hands. He were. I were relieved that he didn’t have no gun with him. I were. He come right up on the porch an’ said, “Boy, I’m here to tell you a story.” I invited him to come on in, but he said the porch would be fine. He did. He said, “Boy, you see this box?” He opened it an’ inside there were a watch case. Inside that were a wristwatch. Ol’ John said, “That there’s a Hamilton. They made ‘em up in Pennsylvania, but they don’t make ‘em no more. I heard they’re gettin’ to be collector’s items. My pa only wore it on weekends an’ special occasions.” He held it out to me an’ said, “I want you to have it. Your ma an’ pa were good folks. An’ I ain’t got no kin worth havin’ no how. When I die they’ll show up like vultures. So I want you to have this ol’ watch. It ain’t been wound in years, so be careful iffen you decide to wear it.”

Almost before I could thank him he shoved it into my hands an’ were headin’ to his truck. He were. I said “Merry Christmas John William!” I did. He didn’t look back an’ just waved his hand as if to dismiss the whole idea. He did. But I knowed ol’ John William had softened up just a tad. I did.
Keith kswrev@aol.com

CONCERNS: Jo Wagner’s cousin, Donna Brutto is being treated for stage four bladder cancer. Judy Hall is able to travel a little and was with us last Sunday. Charlie Green, Sam’s (from VBS) father, is recovering from heart problems and has diabetes, as well as being unemployed at the time. Jenn McCready, who works in Del Bolin’s office, has a severe eye infection that may blind her. A friend of Garrett Lee Williams suffered eye damage in an accident and they hope to restore his sight in the damaged eye. Ron Matney has been having health problems lately that have kept him away. It was really good to see Helen Nicklas at church last Sunday. Eleanor Crush remains about the same as does Wilma and Jenni Cullum. Continue to remember Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, The Kincannons in Russia, Randy Conner, and Tim Elder, as well as the various works we support.

OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 2-7
Monday: John 15:12-27
Tuesday: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday: John 6:35-51
Thursday: Matthew 17:14-23
Friday: I Peter 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 125:1-5

OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 9-14
Monday: I Peter 1:1-11
Tuesday: Luke 2:1-15
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-15
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-18

SYMPATHY
We were saddened to Learn of the death of Brad Hager’s father, Earl. After 102 years, most of which was lived in both the political sector and education, he died at home in Logan, WV. Brad was with him. Earl had also studied with a local minister and was baptized into Christ recently. The funeral was in West Virginia.

NOTES AND CARDS
We received a thank-you note from the Samaritan Inn downtown. The Steering Committee, at Rich Crites suggestion, agreed to buy clothes from Goodwill take them to the Inn. Along with the clothing was peanut butter, jelly, coffee creamer. It is on the downstairs bulletin board.
Also, this from Tess Anderson, who Alan Beach put us in contact with: “Alan Beach delivered a fruit and candy basket to me yesterday. You’ve been so kind to remember me for several years now. Alan said there was a check attached and I thought, “How sweet, a few dollars for Christmas dinner.” But when I opened it I could not believe it-$500.00! What an answer to prayer, a blessing from God and His people. Thank you SO much. Words do not convey how grateful I am.” This card is also on the bulletin board. Also on the bulletin board is a thank-you note from Debbie Quick Conner with Carillion Hospice. They use the annex each year so those who have lost loved ones can make memorial ornaments for their Christmas trees

THE BUDGET
The Steering Committee has worked on the 2012 budget and Rich Crites will soon be reporting on our work here in 2011, as well as some things we hope to do in 2012.

PEANUT BUTTER
At one time we collected peanut butter for the regional food bank. Now we would like to have a peanut butter drive for the Samaritan Inn. The food bank gives food to the needy. The Samaritan Inn makes peanut butter sandwiches to feed those who live primarily on the street. Next time you shop get a jar and place it on the table downstairs and they will be delivered.