Country - - HEART SOUL -

n 1952, my daddy trav­eled with the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers. He worked on a very large dredge ves­sel, and he went where it went. This meant he spent a lot of time away from our North Carolina home.

As Christ­mas ap­proached, he called from Galve­ston, Texas. Daddy ex­plained to my mother why he would not be cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­day with us. Money was tight and he didn’t have a way to get back to his fam­ily.

Dis­ap­pointed as she was, Mother knew he was right. She also knew we would be up­set, so she told my two sis­ters, brother and me right away. The news hit me very hard. Christ­mas just wouldn’t be the same with­out Daddy.

I knew he had tried his best.

Still, I went to bed on Christ­mas Eve with a heavy heart.

When we woke up on Christ­mas morn­ing, Santa had come. I don’t re­mem­ber what gift my brother re­ceived that year, but my sis­ters and I found new Dy-Dee dolls. Their dolls had a car­riage to ride in, and Santa had brought mine a crib.

We were all happy with our gifts, so we went out­side to play. I didn’t want Mother to see how glum I was that I couldn’t show Daddy what Santa had brought me. I could tell she was feel­ing sad, too.

As we were play­ing, I looked up and thought I saw my daddy in the dis­tance. I ran in­side to tell Mother. She did not be­lieve me and told me not to make up sto­ries.

But I was sure it was Daddy! My mother re­peated he would have been there if he could, but it just wasn’t pos­si­ble.

I turned to go back out­side when I heard fa­mil­iar foot­steps. I ran down the stairs. Daddy was home!

As I rushed into his out­stretched arms, Daddy ex­plained that he had tried ev­ery­thing to get home for Christ­mas, but with­out suc­cess. At the last minute, a group of the work­ers had de­cided to drive.

But the near­est guy lived 17 miles away. So Daddy started walk­ing on Christ­mas Eve un­til he ar­rived home. He had walked all night to get home to his fam­ily.

Though the presents that year were won­der­ful, the best gift was not found un­der the tree. Daddy’s spe­cial sur­prise made this my most mem­o­rable Christ­mas.

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