Thursday, January 1, 2009
The Burlesons packed a lot of Christmas into a few days.
It began Christmas Eve.
Several years back we started a tradition of each of us opening one gift on the night before Christmas.
I left work at about 1 p.m. on Wednesday of last week and by about 3 p.m. our youngest, Erin, was asking when she was going to be able to open that first present. Her question was repeated several times until about 6:30 p.m.
Then late that night there were a few last-minute preparations for Santa - like leaving milk and cookies.
Christmas morning, Pam and I were up early. The children actually slept in for awhile. When they made their way upstairs to the tree, it was easy to see, Santa had left lots of goodies. I think everyone’s lists were filled.
And there were a few surprises, too.
The biggest surprise came from Emma, our high school senior.
She had been telling me for a month or so that she had decided which college she is going to attend, and I would find out Christmas morning.
I was beginning to think everyone knew but me.
After we’d ripped into all the other gifts, Emma ran downstairs to her room and brought up one for me and one for her mother.
We unwrapped them at the same time - car tags, one inscribed “Bama Dad” and the other “Bama Mom.”
My emotions included a bit of shock, plus a big smile and several tears.
I knew the University of Alabama was in her top three, but I actually thought it was second.
I grew up in Alabama, where football is bigger than life. You’re either for Alabama or Auburn - no middle ground. As a child, I chose legendary coach Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide.
I considered going to Alabama for my college education. But due to family circumstances, I chose a college a bit closer to home and less expensive - the University of North Alabama. I’ve always been happy with that selection. UNA is a great school, too.
But as most of the readers of this newspaper know by now. I have a deep love for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
Emma’s surprise made it one of my best Christmases ever. It means so much to me - with my deep Alabama roots - for her to have the opportunity to attend the University of Alabama. I am so very proud of her.
And I’m looking forward to spending more time in Tuscaloosa.
Another tradition on the home front has been forgetting a few gifts. Friday, Pam discovered a couple we failed to put under the Christmas tree.
On the afternoon of December 26, it was off to Alabama for Christmas with my family. It felt more like June, weather-wise.
The best story of the day came when my mother couldn’t find a cake she had thought she brought to my sister’s house. She looked and looked.
Finally, Pam and I said we would drive to her house and see if we could find it.
Sure enough, I opened the back door and it was nearby on the freezer. She had just forgot to put it in the car.
I called her and said, “Mother, are you sure you actually made that cake?”
She shouted, “Yes, I made a cake.”
After laughing, then I quickly replied, “I’ve got it. It’s here. We will be right back.”
Saturday morning, we awoke early and drove to Nashville, Tenn., for Christmas with Pam’s family.
One of my favorite traditions with the Hefleys is the annual gift of chocolate-covered cherries, started by Pam’s late father Phil and carried on by her mom Fran. I had to open a box before going to bed that night.
It was a whirlwind Christmas but another filled with memories.
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