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Mike Hendricks

Mike at Night

Mike Hendricks recently retires as social science, criminal justice instructor at McCook Community College.

An Arkansas Christmas

Friday, December 16, 2016

I'll be leaving later today for Arkansas to spend the Christmas season with my boys. Michael just had a birthday a couple of weeks ago and Will's is this Sunday so at least I'll get to be there for one of their birthdays. We didn't plan very well when we were starting a family all those years ago because both our boys were born in December, just a year and two weeks apart. We also got married in December so that meant two birthdays, an anniversary and Christmas all in the same month. We would save up all year long for three weeks in December, spend all of our savings on gifts and then start saving all over again for the following December. Thankfully we're well enough off financially today that we don't have to do that anymore.

Some of you are probably thinking I'm going to be lucky enough to escape the frigid air that's due to invade Nebraska this weekend but it doesn't look Iike I'm going to be fortunate enough to do that either. It's coming to Arkansas too, just a day later. In fact, according to the National Weather Service Forecast, Fayetteville has a better chance for accumulating snow Saturday night than McCook does. And that will be followed by a high of 20 on Sunday. So the polar vortex will have at least a temporary grip on most of the nation this weekend.

I remember Christmas in Arkansas fondly when I was growing up. It was the holiday my family went all out for. It would start when I would go with my uncle, who was more like my dad, on some property we owned, looking for the perfect Christmas tree. We always chopped down our own back then; no buying from vendors and certainly no fake Christmas trees for us. When we found just the right one, we would take it home and the whole family would trim it while we drank egg nog, ate homemade fudge and laughed and sung Christmas carols. I didn't have any idea how much fun it really was back then because we had always done it, but I recall those days warmly now because that tradition has escaped from my family's behavior. I used to stay up after everyone had gone to bed with all the lights in the house turned off except for the lights on the Christmas tree and marvel in the beauty of the tree and the joy of the season. Now we don't even put a Christmas tree up anymore.

I'm sure you're thinking that the whole Christmas tree thing was done for me since I was the only kid in the house but it didn't seem that way to me. The adults appeared to be loving it as much as I was and for a few days in December, the problems of the world went away.

Nevertheless, I'll be spending time with Michael and Will and that means more to me than anything else. They're certainly not kids anymore but, as all parents know and realize, they'll always be my babies and I would rather be with them than anyone else. I'll spend this weekend with Will, then go to Russellville on Sunday where Michael lives and Will and Erica, Will's wife, will come down next weekend and we'll all celebrate Christmas together.

The holidays are never the same when you've lost a family member unexpectedly and so in addition to celebrating the holiday, we will mourn the loss of our oldest son and brother, Brandon, who died 13 years ago, two days after Thanksgiving, while serving in the Navy in San Diego, California. I know many of you have lost sons and daughters as well and also know that holidays will never be like they used to be when they were present in our lives.

But to all of you, I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope that all your hopes dreams will one day become a reality!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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