Through the years I’ve had many people tell me I had an “old soul.” It took me a while to figure out what that meant, but as the years passed I began to understand.
My Dad had an old soul, too, I suppose. I say that because as I look in the rearview mirror, his admonitions were filled with wisdom that reached well beyond his 49 years on this earth.
I am the middle of three children. My sister (make no doubt about it, she was our Dad’s pet) will tell you Dad was tough with her. He wouldn’t let her date before she was 16, and then when he began to allow her to date, my brother and I were sent to chaperone, which we thought was a pretty cool rule, I might add.
Little brother had somewhat limited experience with Dad (John was only 8 or 9 when Dad passed away) but the accuracy of his memory is surprising.
If you walked a mile in my shoes back in those days, you would have found it curious that Dad was almost preparing to die early. I don’t mean in a suicidal sort of way, but he somehow instinctively knew that his time would be short. So, he seemed to work overtime to make a man of me. He would always say, “You need to know this in case I’m not here.” I’d push back each time he would make such a statement, because no one wants to hear that a parent or anyone you love might depart this life. Trust me, there is a reason I am sharing this with you.
I know I have talked about my parents numerous times here, but each time the holidays roll around I can’t help but remember how two people, neither of whom finished high school, left such an indelible impression on three kids like our parents did us.
I recall Dad talking about Christmases when he was a child from an impoverished background being made special by his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. He shared with me on many occasions that if they got an orange, an apple, or if they were well-behaved, a banana, and little else on Christmas morning from Santa, they were thrilled.
Yet, he could weave a web on Christmas Eve as we were milking the cows or feeding the hogs about Santa feeding his reindeer in preparation for the night’s great trip around the world to bring toys (and fruit, we always got that too) to all the good little girls and boys. If you’ve heard my radio shows you’ve heard Eustis wonder how a big fat Santa could slide down a skinny little chimney with ease. Cledus would always put his concerns at ease by explaining how Santa uses “chimney stretchers” to make the tiny chimney large enough to gain entry to bring in the toys. That explanation came to me from Asberry Day, my Dad.
Between stories like that and what seemed to us to be majestic scenes of Christmas grandeur with a cedar Christmas tree adorned with homemade decorations of cut-out, crayon colored paper chains that went all around the tree, the two of them painted Norman Rockwell-like productions of Christmas in our minds and hearts forever.
Dad would give me blow-by-blow descriptions of Santa harnessing the reindeer, hooking them up to the sleigh and preparing for take off. I stood in amazement. And, as I write this, I still am standing in amazement… but now with tear-filled eyes.
Remember, the one who gave us the greatest gift of all, the true reason we celebrate this season, both He and His Father (of course, the two are one), have old souls too. I no longer feel that having an old soul is a bad thing. I just consider it something of genetics that is traced all the way back to my Father in heaven.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at http://www.HerbDayVoices.com and http://www.HerbDayRadio.com.