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The Rev. Ron George Jr.: Holidays on the hill

Home for the holidays? There's no place like home and there's no place on earth like the hills and hollers. If you grew up there you know what I mean. It's a special place filled with special people. Why is it so different and why is it that you never feel like you're home until you come back? Your dad may have gone to Ohio or Michigan to work in the auto factories on the assembly line, or he may have had to go south for the construction work or the furniture factories in North Carolina. The fact is, many a mountaineer had to leave the hills just to survive.However, some did choose to stay and that was my Dad. He had worked in Niagara Falls on the hydroelectric plant there and worked in Cleveland and Detroit, but finally we came back home. I was born on one of Dad'sout-of-state work trips. So, I'm from Niagara Falls. Well, at least thatwas where I was born. Coming home as we did meant that times would be tough in some respects, but for the most, they were always good. We may not have had all the benefits of the cities, but we had the hills to comfort us. We didn't have professional ball teams to watch, but we had our own high school team and of course WVU and Marshall to cheer for. We did cheer for all.I'm here for good if the Lord is willing. I ain't going anywhere but torest high up on that mountain. There is no place like the mountains when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holidays. There is deer hunting in Pendleton county, snow, mistletoe, sleigh riding on the steel runner or car hood, standing around a fire of burning tires, snow ball fights and snow men, real Christmas trees, carolers, plays, church dinners, icicles to eat, snow days, warm nights by the fire, lots of homemade candy, gifts, Santa Claus, and Christmas morning. There was the fruit and candy we received from Santa on the fire truck and the church on that Sunday, handed out a brown paper bag filled with goodies to each of us. I got my own bag filled with candy, nuts, oranges, tangerines, apples, Juicy Fruit, and Chocolate Drops. All that pine and those lights would warm up the house with the smell and glow of the Christmas tree. It was an amazing time of the year.There was no day in the world like Christmas morning. We could hardly sleep that night because we knew Santa was on the way. We didn't really get a lot of gifts and goodies throughout the year, especially since my birthday fell on Christmas Day. It was all or nothing for me on Christmas. But I was blessed abundantly. Actually, one of my uncles was born on Christmas too. His middle name was Christmas. I kind of liked that name because it was different, but I couldn't imagine all the teasing he must've had to endure.
Christmas was the day that Santa came. We got up as early as Mom and Dad would let us. Look! Santa had eaten the cookies and drank all the milk, but he left us some things under the tree, and a note too. I got a steel runner and my sister got a doll baby. One year I got a brand new BB gun and a tabletop pinball machine. I loved that gun. It was the best gift ever.Then we played and we played some more. GI Joes and Barbie dolls going out together to save the world. Christmas was all about the dream and the imagination, along with all the love and joy a family could give. We probably don't realize how good it was, until it's gone or changed. Then it's the turn of the next generation to dream and to play.Mamaw found Amy Leigh's stocking and hung it on the mantle. Wow, you can't imagine such hopping, jumping, and running from our first and only grandbaby. Even though she is only five, she can stir a Quaker meeting and raise the dead on a good day with her jumps and squeals. This was one of those days. She raised me, who was nearly across the river. What? What is it? What's the matter? It's a Christmas stocking hanging on the mantle with care. A what? Oh, ok. I see now. It's the next generation's turn to jump for joy with imagination and peace on earth.Is Christmas Day when Jesus came? Is it time for Him to come again?Matthew 24 says, Be ready for it. Ready or not, He is coming again. Beprepared. It is coming and He is coming again. He came the first time and we remember, but we also remember that He is going to come again for us all who believe. This is our hope, peace, joy, and love of Christmas. He is coming for all those who believe. Isn't it exciting? What a time to be born in a country that still believes in Christ and Christmas. In the hills, we may not have had many of the modern conveniences of others in the cities, but we always have plenty of love for God and for His only begotten Son named Jesus. Since He lives, we live. Since He came, then we know He is coming again. Joy in the hills comes from Christ, the church, and the family. He gives us love from the others who love us and care for us. Dad and Mom always made sure we had plenty on Christmas, even if it meant ordering it from Wards on credit.They always paid our bill. Jesus will give you more than you can imagine if you believe. Do you believe? He is coming back to town. He has paid your bill, so we look to Christ for our Christmas. We celebrate His birthday.Happy Birthday to King Jesus.
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