George Worthy
George Worthy

I don’t know if I will see you or speak to you before Good Old Santa comes sliding down the chimney. I like to tell folks “Merry Christmas” during this holiday. I sometimes forget to say it if the conversation is short. But most of the time I almost always finish a sentence or salutation by saying it, it’s like a little blessing. Not that I’m capable of delivering a blessing, that’s for someone who has a better relationship with our God. It’s just that I want folks to think about the holiday and perhaps they could start saying it too. I know I always feel honored when someone returns the thought.

We had a visit yesterday by my daughter Tara and her grandson Armani. I was walking around when it occurred to me that Armani is my great-grandson. I say occurred, but it’s not that I don’t think of him a lot, but it was so cool to have him visit. OK, maybe he was thinking it’s Christmas and so I should have a gift for him, he’s right of course.

I gave up giving presents to my kids, mother-in-law or even to my bride. Not that they didn’t appreciate the gesture, but I want to give them something they can use, and with the economy the way it is, I feel they might want something special, so I give them a little money. Well, except for Lorraine, as her and I decided long ago that we have everything that we need. Does that make me a bad person?

When I was young and we lived in a house between Santa Maria and Guadalupe, my dad started giving us $5 a piece. From that we had to buy a gift for him and my mom and maybe, if I had any change, one of my brothers.

The Christmas season gives me a catch in my throat and a tear in my eye as my childhood comes to life. My beautiful, caring and loving mom always reminded me of the gifts that God had brought. Even though times were tough, special Christmases stay vivid in my mind.

My dad always did his best, and having four boys and buying a gift for each one was a little much for me to think about. It’s true he was a foreman for one of the largest flower growers in the area, but that didn’t mean he made enough to throw money around, even if it was Christmas. My dad would always smile when he opened his gift from us, and as a young boy who wanted to make his dad happy, I never knew what the perfect gift was. He was a grownup who already had anything I could buy. So we usually settled on a pocket knife.

I often look back and wondered about how my mom and dad managed to raise four wild boys on the salary he made. My mom would hunt the local rummage sales in Santa Maria and bring home some wrinkly shirts or pants and iron and sew any rips or tears if necessary, we boys never felt bad about that.

But that special Christmas that I have written about in previous columns was the highlight of my life. I have been given things from others in my life, but that bike and the jeans we got as a special gift has always been my favorite Christmas. I still smile when I think of my dad suffering empty pockets so I could have a bike.

I am also reminded at this time of year of Bonita School, which was the best place in the world to go to school. There was a small room next to the exit where we took music. All children were encouraged to play a musical instrument. The music teacher came to our school from Guadalupe once a week and taught us all about our instrument of choice. He was one of those teachers that took the time to help us with a difficult note. He encouraged us to practice and praised us when we excelled in a difficult passage.

He chose me to play the trumpet, and when he thought I had mastered a song, he would promise me that I would get into the Guadalupe Band, that was pretty heady stuff. The Guadalupe Band had really cool uniforms, green coats and grey pants, and a really cool service hat. My mom took one photo of me standing next to a bushy plant holding an orange soda. We had played all the way from the south city limits to the park and were served soda pop. I sure wish I still had that photo. Maybe I would have practiced a lot more.

The music teacher had made me second trumpet, but I always envied the guy that played first trumpet. When I asked him once how I could get to sit in the front while we played a Christmas concert, he told me to practice more. Shoot! I knew that!

I had the best parents and brothers ever and that was truly enough for me. I hope you had as good of Christmas as I did during those magic moments of youth. Those special days will follow you all your life. I also hope that you had a chance to thank our God for the gifts of life and love. But let’s not forget what it’s all about. God gave his only begotten son, and you know that is the best gift of all. Just writing about those wonderful days of youth has encouraged me to pull out a couple of my harmonicas and practice.

The years I spent playing my harmonica at St. Theodore’s Church always reminds me of the days when I played the trumpet and Lorraine played the guitar. Playing songs and listening to Lorraine sing was the high point of my week. Please pray for those being held in Israel. I pray that they soon will hear the music.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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