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Christmas on a steamy day in July

By Jan Penton-Miller

Columnist

     What will Christmas be like without my sister, Dianne? There just has to be something I can do,” I murmured.   In all these years we have never spent the holidays apart, and this year she’ll be living in Africa.

     As I rolled this over and over in my mind an idea began to take shape.  Yes, that’s doable.  She’ll be home for R&R in July; this could really work, I thought as a delighted smile played on my lips.

     Not willing to ruin the holidays for my little family or myself I shook off my unhappy thoughts and focused on making our celebration special and meaningful.  It was, after all, about our Savior’s birth.  I prayed for strength to make the best of things and count my many blessings.

     “Melinda, Where shall we put the star you made?”  “It is really beautiful.  You did a great job on it!”

     “Right here, Mama.  And we’ll decorate the tree again just like this when Aunt Di comes home. Right?”

     “We sure will, sweetie.  And I’ll make turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce just like she likes it.  Well… actually, Daddy will make the turkey, won’t he?  That’s his specialty!  Remember Melinda, It’s our secret!! Don’t say a word when we talk to Aunt Di on the phone!”

     All the preparations for the holidays kept me so busy I didn’t have much time to be blue.  I did, indeed, count my blessings.  With a wonderful husband and two great children there was much to be thankful for.

     Squeals of delight and sounds of tearing gift wrap filled our happy home on Christmas morning. Glen R. drove over to Mama and Daddy’s to pick them up because Daddy didn’t drive anymore. Waiting for them to arrive my thoughts tried to go south, but I reminded myself of my secret and all my blessings.

     My family had a terrific Christmas. I did miss Dianne, but my plans for July and her homecoming grew and grew.  Glen R. got on board, and we decided to do it up right.

     My mom and I went shopping one day to pick up a few things at Carp’s Boston Store in our hometown of Picayune.

     “Mama, look at the gorgeous bracelet.  Wouldn’t that look great with Dianne’s jet black hair?”

     “That really is beautiful, Jan. See the necklace and pin that match.  Let’s go ahead and splurge.  Dianne will be so happy when she sees them; I can just see the smile on her face!”    

     The hot, summer sun beat down on our small wood frame house. Everything was finally ready.  Bing Crosby’s voice crooned through the speakers of our stereo, and the smell of turkey cooking greeted my siblings and their wives as they arrived.

     “Surprise!   Merry Christmas!” we all yelled out as the front door opened.  Laughter rang out mingled with tears of joy.  On a steamy day in July we were all together; and it was Christmas.