Christmas is here but it is sometimes difficult to get a clear vision of what it’s really all about when filtered through clouds of war, political upheaval, famine and disease in every corner of the world. Yet, the time for celebrating the birth of Christ is here and we’re often faced with how to best honor Him in the midst of all that is going on around us.
Our church has an annual food drive where bags of groceries are accumulated from donations and distributed to needy families in the community. A few years ago, Kay and I helped bring a bit of joy to some families in our community. Seeing the faces of children and grateful parents and being able to take a bit of edge off what pain and anxiety they may be facing was worth giving up the few hours we spent.
As we handed out bags of groceries and received heartfelt thanks, my thoughts turned to memories of the season when I was growing up in the country.
Our Christmases were relatively simple, but that didn’t make them any less special. When it came time to put up the tree, we didn’t go to the shopping center and select an artificial one. We didn’t go to a Christmas tree farm and cut our own from a neat row of cloned trees.
We walked out behind the house to the woods with the hope of finding a cedar growing away from other trees. This didn’t happen often; you’d find a tree that looked just right and nicely shaped, until you checked the back side and saw that the oak next to it had robbed it of sunlight, leaving it shapely on one side and skimpy on the other. If this was the best one you could find, you cut it and put the skimpy side next to the wall.
For decoration, there was red roping, icicles and colored balls. We didn’t have strings of lights those early Christmases because there was nothing to plug them into. Electricity hadn’t found its way to Goldonna yet.
My mama’s kitchen was a mixture of sights, sounds and aromas as the special day neared. Dad, my brother and I made sure we saved a couple of wood ducks shot down at the Sand Flats for mama’s special recipe. I recall seeing those ducks, roasted almost black in a Dutch oven, swimming in a dark sea of the richest gravy you can imagine.
There was a pan of dressing mama made from cornbread she’d cooked the day before and set aside. A fat hen provided the broth and zest to the dressing. On the side, there was a bowl of ambrosia, pecan pies, chocolate pies, divinity, fudge and the traditional applesauce cake mama made from homemade fig preserves, raisins and pecans from our tree in the yard.
As we handed out bags of groceries that day, I recalled a parallel event from childhood that made me want to have a part in sharing with other folks this time of year. Before we sat down to our Christmas dinner, Mama would always prepare a big tray from the bounty of our table and our whole family would walk through the pine thicket to the home of an old couple, our neighbors, whose Christmas dinner would have been meager had it not been for mama’s generosity.
Times change, and they do it in the blink of an eye. All the older participants in those early Christmases are gone; Mom and Dad, the old couple down the road. The memories of those events came into focus though, in the eyes of appreciative folks whose Christmas may have been bleak without the provisions we brought them.
If you run into me during the next few days, don’t expect me to greet you with Happy Holidays, Merry X-mas or Season’s Greetings. You’ll hear “Merry Christmas” in honor of the One this day is all about.
CANEY LAKE – A few reports are coming in of some bream being caught down deep using cold worms. Crappie are fair fishing the deep water out from the dam on shiners and jigs with the Double Silver Rainbow working best. Jigging spoons bounced off the bottom in deep water are fair for yellow bass. Bass are better on the deeper points on jigs and soft plastics. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – A few bream are being caught on worms fairly deep. Bass are best around the pads and grass. No report on crappie. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – Bass have been fair fishing the mouths of the river lakes on shad imitation lures. Crappie have been best fishing around sunken brush and stumps in the river fishing 10-12 feet deep in 20 foot water. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing has been best in the channel fishing 18 feet deep in 20-25 foot water. Jigs and shiners are producing fair catches. Best jigs this week have been the Tomato Seed and Smoke along with shiners. Bass are in the deeper holes in the channel and have been fair on soft plastics and jigs. Bream fishing is slow while catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks.. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Crappie fishing has been best at night fishing shiners around the lighted docks with some also caught during the day around submerged brush in 15 foot water. Jigs and shiners a picking up a few. A few stripers have been caught fishing jigs. No report this week on bass, bream or catfish. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Crappie fishing has been fair fishing jigs or shiners in the deeper coves. Catfishing has been fair to good with mostly smaller fish being caught. No report on bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The water is low; launching boats is a near impossibility. No fishing this week. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is on a slow rise. Several fair to good reports have come in on fishermen catching crappie, bass and catfish. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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