Christmas Eve in November…

Cade 3Friday night… will go down in history… as one of the favorite nights of my life… right up there with the Christmas Eve when we came out of Church to find it snowing… right up there with the Christmas Eve when we went to Midnight Mass and came home to find that Santa Claus had visited while we were gone…

Yes… Friday night definitely was a Christmas Eve kind of night… as I attended Lawrence County High School’s… Red-White basketball games… essentially this is the intra-squad skirmish games which mark the official opening to the season… which would be fun… but hardly Christmas Eve worthy… except that this year… there was a star player for the varsity White team… Cade Jones…

Cade is a very special seventeen year old… he plays football… golf… soccer… and other sports… all on the Special Olympics teams… but last night… he was a starter on his high school varsity shoot ball team… something he’s wanted to do for a long time…

He was the last player introduced to the crowd… and his entrance to his WWE hero Randy Orton’s theme song… would have made Randy pale in comparison… Cade owned the crowd… fans were on their feet… demonstrating their enthusiasm for his appearance…

Cade 4Once the game started… I was impressed by the players… both Red and White… who made certain that this was an evening that Cade would always remember… his teammates… especially Chip… consistently passed the ball to him when it was time to shoot… at first he missed a few… but then his streak began… and he went on to score 19 points for the Whites… it may have helped that the Red team backed off and didn’t try to block his shots… although… one of his best friends… Trey… gave the appearance that he was trying to keep Cade from shooting… but he always allowed Cade to out maneuver him… of course… Cade will not realize that… he also won’t realize that the referees didn’t call his miss-dribbling or walking… he didn’t even seem to mind that in the final seconds… the Whites lost by a few points… because as the buzzer sounded… Cade rejoined his teammates on the floor… and got to shoot one more time… and that he will always remember…

Cade 3What I will always remember… and be grateful for… is… Coach Shane Childress… and his willingness to make Cade’s dream come true… a community which has embraced Cade from the day he was born with Down Syndrome… the finest group of athletes I could ever hope to know who truly delighted in having Cade be one of the team and willingly gave him the spotlight… his parents Steve and Dewanna who always see his potential rather than his disability… his Mim Cindy who gives of herself so easily to him… his entire family who always make him feel special and loved… and mostly… I am grateful that I get to be his great-aunt… and that I will have many more opportunities to witness the joy and delight in his face as he accomplishes one more goal…

Jane…

And special thanks to Andy Bradford for the pictures… seems I forgot to take any…

Oh… and if you wondered what… Bertha… had to say… well… she was too hoarse from cheering to say much at all…

Christmas Eve…

Jim Jenkins died on Christmas Eve…that’s about all I remember about him personally…that…and that he cut his hand on the tin roof when he was building our barn…I remember there was a lot of blood and he acted like it was nothing…
Granny’s rocker at my current home
He was a strong man…a good man…who loved his family…and did the best he could by them…
I sat in Granny’s rocker on my porch this morning…and looked out at his home place…contemplating Jim…and the family that binds us…his father and my grandfather were half-brothers…
I imagined my great-grandmother sitting in the same rocker…on this same porch…looking out at the same home place…I wondered if he lived there as a boy…I have no idea…
I have no notion why I feel compelled to write about this…what is the lesson that I have to learn…what is the feeling that I want to express…
I remember being in Granny’s living room with all the aunts and uncles and cousins when the call came about the wreck…they were on the way to Rachel’s in Tennessee…
I never knew that people died on holidays…I never knew that Christmas could be a time of sadness…and forever hold painful memories…but then…I was only a child…there was so much that I didn’t know at the time…
I remember how quiet the room got after the call…I don’t remember the funeral…I don’t remember ever talking to Melba about losing her Daddy…I have no idea how her Mother managed to make ends meet after his death…
I feel remorse for not knowing those kinds of things at the time…but I was only a child…
Many Christmas Eves have come and gone since then…and somehow…I’ve grown to expect Christmas to be a time of sadness…at least part of the time…and…I reopen my painful memories like presents under the tree…passing them around for everyone to see…
After all…I’m no longer a child…
Jane
PS…now for…the rest of story…I wrote this piece a few years ago…when I was living in my great-aunt’s home place…my great-grandmother…she would have been Jim’s grandmother…did indeed live with my great-aunt and uncle in her later years…and my grandmother sent her the rocker to use while she was there…
I’m still not exactly sure why I wrote this piece…but it’s one that has stayed with me…through thick and thin and numerous computer crashes…so…I’m sharing it today…Christmas Eve…thankfully I don’t feel the need to reopen the painful memories this year or pass them around again…in fact…I think I’ll see what new things are under the tree…