Christmas presents. Oh, I hate shopping for Christmas presents. I have a very small family to shop for, but still, I feel like I am never good at picking out presents for them.
I guess we have reached the age where when we need something or want something; we just buy it. I know that is what Snell and I do. One year he bought himself a steering wheel for the 1948 Cadillac, and we called that his Christmas gift. I came home one day and told him that he didn’t need to worry about getting me a present. I had bought my 40th anniversary and Christmas present. He said, “Do I like it? Did I do good?” I told him he had excellent taste and he was thrilled that he had found something I loved so much. Are we pathetic, or what? But we are happy with our arrangement.
Our son gets Christmas surprises. Well, they are rarely surprises. He either finds them wherever I have hidden them or he just tells me what he wants. But one year, he was really and truly surprised. Actually, so were we.
Jimmy, Snell’s brother, was better known as Jimmy Buck by most people and Ucca Buck to James. Jimmy and his wife Debbie managed Silverwood Farms. This was a ranch for people who boarded their horses and wanted a wooded area and fields in which to ride. Lenora Park is located on that property now. I miss seeing the ponds where James and others would fish. Snell’s horse Sealy, a buckskin cutting horse who lived to be 23, is buried there.
I have to tell you about the style of the house. It still exists at Lenora Park, but they have changed its outward appearance and the use of the interior space. The house was an A-fame in the center of two long buildings making a “T” with the top of the “T” coming off each side. The long sections were tack and feed rooms and horse stalls. These horses were not just riding ponies, some of them were champions in their fields. Security was necessary, and Jimmy kept a close eye on everything. The back door of the short leg of the T opened into the long top of the T”.
Back to my story. Every Christmas Eve Snell’s family gets together for dinner and presents. When my parents were living, we would be together on Christmas day, but Snell and James are all I have now except for two cousins who live very far away and who have their own families.
We rotated Christmas Eves, so I should have been suspicious when Debbie called and asked if we could do our holiday at their house this time. Well, sure, any time I don’t’ have to cook and clean the house is okay with me.
We had a lovely time, eating and laughing and opening presents. Our niece Emily had just turned two, so she was having the best time with the wrap-ping paper. James, who was seven, had gotten something with which he and his Maw-maw, Miss Bobby, were enthralled.
Snell’s mother was known as Miss Bobbie to many people. She taught first grade at the Snellville Consolidated School until her arthritis became so severe she could no longer work. Bobbie Snell Buchanan was one of the most loved people in Snellville.
Suddenly we realized that Debbie and Jimmy were gone. Before anyone could get up, Debbie opened the back door singing “Merry Christmas, James!”
Jimmy walked in the kitchen door leading Cricket, a Shetland pony. All the air left the room as we gasped in unison. James was so stunned that he could only look at Cricket and couldn’t move. Finally, James got up and went to Jimmy and just stared at him. Jimmy was laughing so hard he was in tears. Debbie, who was James’ most favorite person in the whole room, grabbed James and put him up on Cricket’s back.
From the time James began talking, he never stopped. He stopped this time. He just looked from Cricket to Jim