“We were poor but we had love. That’s the one thing that [momma] made sure of.” Loretta Lynn’s lyrics hypnotize me. It is Black Friday and North Texas’ first freeze. I fail to keep up with the conversation over dinner at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. My senses are on overdrive. The crispy, double fried chicken thigh and buttery mashed potatoes and flashbacks of my past dominate my sensory motherboard. My Past plays in my mind. The Present enjoys dinner with my family which includes my father from Nevada and sister from El Salvador. On this holiday season, my Future affirms my children will not know the plight of a “miner’s wage,” thanks to momma’s hard work.
“Momma loved and raised [four] kids on a [seamstress’] pay.” As a child, we never celebrated Thanksgiving. For my brothers and me, it was a break from school. My momma worked and usually only had Thanksgiving Day off. “I seen her fingers bleed, to complain there was no need.” Yes, I recall seeing my mom’s finger bleed through the gauze as she described a sewing needle piercing her thumb. She never complained as she drifts to sleep to start all over tomorrow morning. Spirit plays this moment just minutes after I complain about Wal-Mart’s ridiculous Black Friday crowd. After I make the connection that I should be gracious for this moment, in my mind, “she smiles in mommy’s understanding way.”
“In the summertime we didn’t have shoes to wear but in the wintertime we’d all get a brand new pair.” Christmas was always bitter sweet. To me, this season was bitter because I never had the opportunity to believe in Santa Claus. After a few disappointing Christmases, I was conditioned not to believe in Santa Claus against all earnest attempts of the contrary. Jesus’ birth was sweet because of non-profit organizations such as the Salvation Army and King’s Daughters. God blessed me with loving teachers. My Kindergarten teacher is my hero. She blessed our family with memorable Christmas: shoes, clothes, Christmas Tree, and a toy. I know momma worked hard to pay the bills and maintain our livelihood. Momma’s love prevailed over the poverty. I knew the trailer we lived in was no mansion, but somehow I was fulfilled. I was once a Salvation Army Angel, and I know the Lord blessed me with many Angels throughout my life.
“Well, a lot of things have changed since way back then.” “Yes they have,” I quietly thank God. My wife and I made a life for ourselves. By the grace of God, hard work that I learned from my momma, and education, I am prepared to give my children a life my momma and I always wanted. The glass of Malbec is empty. I pour one more glass and enjoy this humbling holiday reflection as the song continues to play, “and it’s so good to be back home again. Not much left but the floors, nothing lives here anymore, except the memories of a coal miner’s daughter.”