“Apples, oranges, candy and nuts,” my mother sang as she recall Christmas past when her father would shower his children with their Christmas gifts. “We would wake up and the apples, oranges, candy and nuts would be in shoe boxes, a box for each of us” she recalled. Later she would state how she didn’t get any dolls. “The black dolls were ‘ugly’ with two twigs for plats while the ‘white dolls” were pretty.” Born in 1929, mom knew about hard times but she was blessed with a father who provided for his family, then consisting of four daughters and two sons and their mother, my granny, Mama Annie.
My grandfather was a very smart man and was highly religious, even if his walk did not match up with his talk, but in reality isn’t that reflective of most Christian? He taught all his grandchildren biblical scripture. The Book of Matthew was a biblical road that all his grandchildren had to travel down. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds (alms, tithes, offering) before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your father in heaven. Therefore when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets…they have their reward. Matt 6:1-4. He taught me early about the “draught” saying it was the “booty-hole” and explained how it was not what goes in a man’s mouth that defiles him but what comes out, Matt 15: 17-19. In essence he explain that once a man had too much to drink what he did or said was already in his heart but the alcohol or whatever only brought out what was already in him. It comes through the mouth and goes out the “draught” he would explain. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…”Years later I would learn that the Bible was the only book that “reads you” as opposed to other books that you read. “The BIBLE… Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”
“Your will be sixty or seventy years old before what I tell you sinks in” my mother would later tell me what her father told her. “And he was right” mom stated as she recently celebrated her 84th birthday. My grandfather believed in “home schooling,” teaching mom her multiples and fractions by cutting up apples. Mom graduated from high school at the early age of 15 and would have graduated earlier if it was not for Mama Annie not allowing her to be promoted any faster that she had already experienced. I would later learn that my grandfather worked for the WPA (Work Projects Administration) during the depression and years later was employed carrying “ties for a nickel”, that’s railroad cross-ties carried by one man alone. His shoulders bared the mark from this back braking endeavor. I often think about the racial discrimination and degradation he experienced as he migrated from South Carolina as a teenager and came to North Little Rock, Arkansas. Being born black especially in the South had to be enough to make or break a black man. A sleeping disorder later brought his physical work to and end as he would be driving and go to sleep at the steering wheel. Being a youngster with his grandpa I thought this was normal. “He (my grandfather) loan out money for interest” my mother would later tell me as he used his head to earn money when he could no longer use his physical strength. Even when diabetes resulted in both legs being amputated at the knees, he never gave up, “climbing a latter” as he built a shed in the back of the family house, minus his legs.
Eight decades later. From a depression to a recession: from the outhouse to the white house: after evolving from being a Negro, colored, black, and ultimately an Afro-American. Have we finally over come?
The price tag was over “four hundred dollars” for the toy car that was displayed in such a manner that kids could not help but see it. A police car, a jeep and other identifiable makes and models painted and stripped in beautiful bright colors to get the attention of the boys and girls looking forward to Christmas. Four-hundred dollar toys that the kids can drive on the side walks or in the drive ways of their homes. Four-hundred dollars toys, design to take away the much need physical exercise that our children stand in need of. Teenagers (and pre-teens) are asking for I Pads, I Phones and other high tech gadgets that are not cheap. We have come a long ways from “apples, oranges, candy and nuts” or have we? And we ask, “Who took the Merry out of Christmas?” Hummm… Merry Christmas!!!