I can see my father’s face clearly now, beaming with anticipation and glee as I snatched the stocking from the mantle. For he knew that nestled in the toe lay the fattest, juiciest, reddest, shiniest Christmas apples to be found. You see, it wasn’t my obvious delight upon beholding a new bike or GI Joe doll that thrilled Papa most. Rather, it was the pulling out of the prize apples that gave the greatest satisfaction.
Though I never saw the search, I know it was with loving care he must have chosen the fruit, polished the skin, and placed it in its familiar spot for tiny hands to grasp on Christmas morn. Memories such as these fill my life with rich aromas of Christmases past.
Then came Christmas … anew. The apples had been discovered. The Johnny West doll set upon his horse. The ambrosia served. The blessing begun.
When came a knock; hesitant, but hopeful.
Papa answered, and there he stood: reddened care-worn eyes, furrowed brown brow, curly white beard, tattered cap, shredded overcoat missing buttons, shoes with half soles. “Christmas Gift,” he muttered, in hopeful resignation. With compassionate countenance, Papa turned to ….
Gathering up finest fruit (the Christmas apples, oranges, bananas), he filled the old man’s sack to overflowing. If Christmas came to the old man that day, it came in double portion to me.
Looking back through years and “spirit” eyes, I see myself in tattered clothes at Papa’s back door seeking Christmas. The Son’s finest fruit I don’t deserve, but such I receive. You see, Papa’s Christmas apples were polished for you and for me, and the stockings are always hung on Christmas morn.
“Salvation is created in midst of the earth. Alleluia!”