This time of year always brings up memories of Pop J. His name was John W. Allen and he was my maternal grandpa. Pop J loved chocolate covered cherries at Christmas time. It may be just my memory but they are the only store-bought candies I can remember being at Grandma’s house, and somehow that made them special. That, and the fact that even though Pop J loved them he was always willing to share. The house would be filled with homemade cookies and candies and country cooking that Grandma and Mom had no doubt been working on for days, but when Pop J offered me one of his chocolate covered cherries that was the best of the best. He would be sitting in his easy chair watching whatever ballgame was on T.V. and I would standing at his knee. After a while he would reach over and pick up the box of cherries from the side table. He would never just hand me a cherry. He would open the box and present it to me so that I could pick the one I wanted. I would look them over carefully until I found the very best one. And then, I would leave that one for him.
I don’t know why he loved chocolate covered cherries. I never asked him and he never said. I wish I could say I knew him well. My Pop J was, by all accounts, a very interesting man. He was a farmer and a rancher, although the land he farmed and the cattle he ranched generally belonged to someone else. He made wine from whatever grew in excess in the orchard or garden. He was considered among the best when it came to witching water for a well. And, he once turned down a movie producer who considered him the perfect character for his movie. All these things I learned after he was gone. When I was young he was working hard to provide for family, and when I was older I had other interests. Now, I realize how much I missed.
This Christmas when you’re with a loved one don’t just spend time with them. Make an effort to learn something new about them and to allow them to learn something new about you. That is a gift that will stay with you forever. Merry Christmas.
With warm wishes,