Christmas memories and 'Godwinks,' too

Special to The Herald

Marlene Truesdale-Greener

A memory is something that we keep in our hearts forever. Our very own precious possession. Be they a special memory, or not so endearing, they are ours.

Every one of us has Christmas memories. As children or as grownups. Myself, age 79 years young, many, many, memories over the years.

But I want to start this story with a new Christmas memory to hold in my heart forever. A joyous thrill!

My granddaughter, Grace, left for Naval boot camp on Aug. 23. Grace held my hand as we left St. Mary’s and said our goodbyes. My words to her as I cried were: “One day at a time” and “Jesus is with you always.”

Grace had a tough beginning because of COVID quarantines for the new recruits. She finally was able to complete boot camp and is furthering her training at Pensacola, Florida. Her mom, Abby, told me that Grace could call us now and that she’d be calling me. That phone call came Monday and I finally heard her sweet voice again. While we were talking on the phone, I heard someone knocking at the back door! “Grace, someone’s knocking at the door, bear with me. It must be Andrew, he helps me.” So, I got my walker, phone at my ear to keep in touch, and walked through my home to the back door. But it wasn’t Andrew standing there, it was Grace! Still holding her phone to her ear, dressed in Naval camo, smiling with her eyes because of the mask over her mouth. Oh, great joy, oh, my dear God! To hold her in my arms for hugs and know that it was real. Grace was home for Christmas. I learned that I was the last one to be surprised by her. My heart is bursting with joy that she will be with us this Christmas — the year of the Christmas Star’s return.

On Nov. 11, 2016, I had a “Godwink” (a gentle push from God in the direction that he wants you to go).

I had been at Jasper High School for the Veterans Day program. I always attended because of my two Marine Iraq veterans and all who have served. I was driving north on St. Charles Street when I was told to turn in to St. Charles Health Campus where I had worked as a housekeeper. I knew it well. I knew, also, that I had had a “Godwink.” I walked right in to see the activities director. The words came out of my mouth. “I want to have a Christmas show for the residents on the morning of Christmas Eve.”

I was just in time that day because they were finalizing the December schedule. “I’ll audition for you, I can sing, tell stories, I can give them an hour of joy and fellowship.” I was booked for 10 a.m. Christmas Eve morning and I left. As I walked to my car, grinning, I said to my Lord, “OK, your Godwink, but, my job — I’m on it.” I had a month and a half to pull off a great show for them!

My first stop was the JHS choir and the “Singing Ambassadors.” Christmas Eve morning was good for about 15 kids, including my Grace. They knew what they wanted to sing, and the show’s agenda being planned. They were going to wear Christmas sweaters and I was going to be a Christmas Mouse — silly, but fun for all. I composed a refrain for “Mary’s Lullaby” to teach the residents and all there to sing. We were ready. On that Dec. 24, we met in the lobby and came in singing! The hour flew by, smiles abounded. Happiness and joy flowed. I talked of memories, and the coming of the Christ child. I lead carols and the kids entertained with their hearts bursting with true joy! A most beloved Christmas memory thanks to a “Godwink.”

I’m picking three memories of long ago to share with you and I’m asking you to “pass it on” and share a memory or a “Godwink” with your loved ones this Christmas.

December 1984: John, Matt, and I landing at the airport in Wisconsin that first Christmas after Jim’s death, the snow crunching underfoot as we walked toward our family and hugs.

1990 Persian Gulf War: A tree for John. Three hundred white lights, a golden bow and streamers, an empty bird’s nest and the Christmas card from John, my Marine waiting to serve in the Middle East.

Way back 1940s: My sister, Lolly, sneaked down to the living room and opened up every present under the tree while we slept! I laugh now, but not then.

I hope that you are smiling after reading my Christmas offering of Memories and “Godwinks.”

With COVID looming over all of us, we need to be with family and friends for love and warmth. Be it safely in person or through technology.

My warmth to all and blessings.

P.S. This story came as a “Godwink," a Christmas card that I received thanking me for my past stories and pushing me to write one more.

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