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Wayne Knuckles: A Christmas lesson
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When I was 7 years old, I learned about Christmas and a parents love.

My father, a heavy equipment operator, lost his job with the state highway department that fall after a political dispute.

In those days before civil service, state workers were expected to vote and work for the candidates endorsed by the local political machine. To do otherwise meant you were likely to be standing in the unemployment line when the election was over.

People who long for the good old days often forget there were a lot of things about the good old days that were not so good.

I have a vivid memory of our Christmas tree that year, which Daddy found in the woods behind our house. It looked for all the world like Charlie Browns. You know, the one where just one ornament caused it to bend nearly in two?

I remember my mom helping my siblings and I cut rectangular pieces of colored construction paper into strips, which we joined with school paste to make links in a paper chain.

Some tinsel and a few colored glass ornaments completed our Christmas tree decorations that year. There wasnt any money for lights.

In fact, as the newspaper counted down (Only 5 more shopping days until Christmas, Only 4 more shopping days until Christmas, it said every day in the lower right corner of the front page), there was some doubt as to whether there would be any money for presents under the tree.

Not that the 7-year old wide-eyed lad I was in 1964 understood such things. I always knew Santa would come through, because he always did.

When the Montgomery Ward catalog would arrive at our house in October, my brothers and I spent hours turning the color pages and marking our Christmas wishes.

That year, I particularly remember a Baltimore Colts football helmet was one of the options I had selected, probably because I thought (and still think) their quarterback, Johnny Unitas, was the greatest ever.

But there were lots of toys on the wish list that year, and the football helmet was just one of many.

But it was the only one I got on Christmas day, along with the usual pack of underwear, Lifesavers and chocolate candy shaped like coins with gold foil wrapping.

My brothers each got a football helmet also.

We spent many a happy hour in the back yard, tossing a football and dreaming of scoring the winning touchdown on the final play of the game.

It wasnt until much later in life that I learned that was the Christmas Daddy had no money. He was flat broke. He had to have some help even getting food onto the table for awhile.

But somehow he managed to scrape up enough founds for gifts for his sons.

Only after I became a father did I really appreciate just what it means to love, and to want your child to have all the happiness its possible for you to give them.

I loved my football helmet when it was shiny and new.

I loved it even more long after it has gone, for the lessons it taught me about a parents love.

Thanks Dad.

And Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wayne Knuckles is the acting-Publisher of the Dawson News & Advertiser. He can be reached at 706-265-2345 or