As I said before, I sing in a women’s barber-shop group. One of the songs in our Christmas repertoire this year, entitled “Christmas Candles,” is about memories one has of the season: singing Christmas hymns, hearing church bells, everyone at the dinner table while Dad says grace, and of course, candles on the Christmas tree.
What memories do you have of Christmas? Did you buy your tree in a lot or cut it down in the woods? Have you ever used an artificial tree? Were your decorations homemade or store bought? Did you have an angel on your tree? Who was the one with the honor of placing the angel on the tree? Did you ever string popcorn balls on a tree? Did your family sing Christmas songs together, or better yet, go caroling through the neighborhood? When you sang at home, did someone accompany you on the piano or another instrument? Did you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Please feel free to share your Christmas memories in the comment box below. If you have trouble, you can use the link below to e-mail me, and I’ll post your comments for you. I’ll leave you now with a story I wrote years ago about a special gift I received for Christmas. This was published in Christmas in the Country, an anthology of stories written by disabled authors. I would like to wish all my readers a memorable Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2011 to come.
As a kid, I was forced to try a variety of different sports in school physical education classes. Unfortunately, due in part to my visual impairment, I was not very successful at any of them. I either fell on my face, as a result of running with someone who ran faster than I could, or I was hit in the face with a ball. Also, I couldn’t aim a ball into a basket to save my soul. In college however, I discovered a sport which I could do pretty well, despite the visual impairment, and without injury.
In 1981, I was entering my second year at Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyoming. I was required to take at least two semesters of physical education, and it was time for me to quit procrastinating and just do it. I signed up for bowling because to me, that seemed to require the least athletic ability and the chance of injury was rather slim.
The first few days of class were rather humiliating. I found that no matter what I did, the ball always ended up in the gutter. Fortunately, nobody laughed at me, which they would have done if we had been in elementary school. However, in between frames, I watched other students bowl strikes and spares and heard them cheering for one another and was depressed by the realization that no one was cheering for me.
But the instructor saw that I was floundering and tossed me a lifeline. She arranged for me to have a lane all to myself so I would have an opportunity to practice continually without having to wait for others to bowl. She also worked with me to perfect my arm movement so I could aim the ball right down the center of the lane.
Gradually, I improved. My gutter balls became less and less frequent, and I began hitting more and more pins each time I bowled. One day, I finally bowled a strike, and the alley seemed to reverberate with the cheers of my classmates.
By the time the holidays rolled around, my average score was seventy-six. I loved the sport and wanted to practice in order to improve my game. I even watched the professional bowling tour on TV. I was living at home at the time. The problem was that since I couldn’t drive, it was impossible for me to borrow the car and drive out to the bowling alley whenever I wanted. So I constantly begged my parents to take me bowling, which they readily agreed to do most of the time. We would often go as a family, with my younger brother Andy tagging along. At Thanksgiving, when my uncle, aunt, and cousins from out of town were visiting, I even talked them into bowling with us, and we all had a wonderful time.
As Christmas grew closer, I became somewhat depressed, as I realized that the bowling class would not continue the second semester. I had really come to enjoy it and wondered if I would ever bowl again, once the term drew to a close. Then, to my wondering eyes on Christmas morning, there appeared a bowling ball, a pair of shoes, and a bag in which to carry them. My parents even gave me an electronic bowling game. They had realized that I was serious about this sport, just as Andy had been serious about tennis a few years earlier.
Through the years, I continued to bowl, although not as frequently, due to having other interests and obligations. I still have the bowling bag with the ball and shoes stowed away in a closet, and I bowl from time to time when I get a chance.
One year, I actually joined a team, which played on a ladies’ bowling league. Unfortunately, we only bowled a few times and the team finally broke up due to a lack of interest. I offered my services to another team captain I knew, but I was never called. Perhaps my seventy-six average didn’t make me league material after all. That doesn’t really matter, though. The important thing is that there is one sport out there in which I can participate successfully, despite my visual impairment. That realization was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received.
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Author of We Shall Overcome