That noise we heard on Christmas Eve night while we were snuggled in bed in that small two-bedroom house that my parents rented near Trout School, well, it was all this little girl needed to feel safe and secure. Christmas was special. Santa was on his way.
Nevertheless, it was the overwhelming sense of curiosity on my sister’s part that made her slip out of that full-size bed to find out what, or who, made the noise. A second later, she bolted back onto that feather mattress proclaiming that she had seen him - HIM. She said he was big, his back was turned to her and it was dark, but there he was, kneeling beneath our Christmas tree. Santa was in our living room!
Whispering excitedly, we pulled those homemade quilts over our heads so our muffled giggles wouldn’t be heard. I remember squeezing my eyes closed as tight as I could, smiling from ear to ear, wishing I had been the one to see him.
It’s those kinds of memories that keep Christmas special for me and I know you have similar ones that you recall each year. Christmastime is meant to be full of joy, a time when all is right with the world.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long to lose our merry and bright when we walk up to that long line at the checkout, or sit in that long line of traffic. Get ready for the marketing pitches and watch out for the scams, telling us where we shop, what to shop for, where to find the best prices, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and it goes on and on.
With all the hubbub, it’s easy to forget the small things that really make holiday memories. Things like homemade cookies, a visit to a nursing home, paying it forward, listening to children sing Christmas carols, checking out Rudolph (the oil-pumping unit) or watching a child open presents.
The TxDOT family would like to wish a happy holiday season to you and yours. With that, we also want to spread a little merry and bright. The statistics of holiday alcohol-related crashes were fewer in 2015 than 2014. That’s because more of you are making the wise choice not to drink and drive.
From Dec.1, 2015 through Jan. 1, 2016, there were 2,374 alcohol-related crashes in Texas that resulted in 102 fatalities and 205 injuries. That number is still too high, but it represents a 9-percent decrease from the same time period in 2014, when 2,417 alcohol-related crashes were reported that resulted in 112 fatalities and 192 injuries. Those statistics are worth celebrating.
We want this downward trend to continue. We want your holidays to be memorable in a happy way. As you plan your holiday parties, remember to make plans for choosing a sober ride. It can save a life, not to mention the $17,000 in fines and fees. We hope your holidays don’t include those memories.
This is the time to celebrate and create wonderful memories. I hope you resist the urge to give in to the commercialization. It’s not about what’s under the tree – but more about who is around that tree with you.
Beneath my tree that Christmas morning long ago, I found some new gloves, a red pajama bag shaped like a dog with some new pajamas zipped inside, and the gift that Santa left the night before when my sister peeked around the corner – a brand new Barbie and a box of hand-sewn Barbie clothes!
I took that Barbie with me to visit my grandparents that day. I wanted to show it off and tell the story about how my sister had seen Santa the night before. However, the happiest memory of all that day was gathering around a crowded table with aunts, uncles, cousins and my own little family of four at my grandparent’s home just south of Nacogdoches.
Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year. Drive safely, make good choices and remember to keep your memories of this holiday season merry and bright!
Rhonda Oaks is a Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation and Lives in Lufkin
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