Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Holiday Memory: The Christmas Candle

     When I was growing up in East Memphis, Tenn., I attended Sea Isle Elementary School which was only a couple of blocks from our house.  Back in those days in the early 70's, you could walk to your neighborhood school with your friends without the fear of being kidnapped by a child molester or serial killer.  This particular school year, I was supposed to be in the fourth grade but I was placed into a special education class because the educators determined that I had developed a learning disability.  My teacher's name was Mrs. Pollard and she was a very special teacher and lady.  She was kind, patient, loving and funny.  Mrs. Pollard always went the extra mile for her students and went to great lengths to spend the proper amount of time to help us develop fully and to enable us to learn what we needed in order to catch up with our classmates in the other classrooms.  I remember that she always brought us food, cakes and cookies and other treats from her home to give to us especially during the Christmas holiday season.  But the one thing I remember most about Mrs. Pollard was her faith in God. She always said a prayer with her students.  Apparently, that was something you could get away with in the public schools in those days.
    Before school let out for Christmas break that year, I remember she gave all the students a candle and a piece of paper with a printed version of the "Lord's Prayer" on it.  She told us to light the candle on Christmas eve and place it by our bedside and then read the prayer to ourselves aloud. The world was in turmoil then like it is now.  Things have not changed a lot in some ways. America was still dealing with the Vietnam war and the civil rights and hippie movement was still going strong.  A lot of families in the nation's suburbs and inner cities were beginning to struggle with domestic social issues such as alcoholism, drugs and divorce especially after women's lib and the sexual revolution had surface in the concourse of America's landscape.  However, that Christmas eve, I did light the candle, read the prayer aloud and I fell peacefully asleep shortly thereafter.  Now I can still see the candle's bright, misty glow in my mind when I shut my eyes.  It takes me back, long ago when I was just a little boy and it helps me remember all those warm and special teachers such as Mrs. Pollard who made a big difference in my life. Thank you, Mrs. Pollard, and Merry Christmas to you wherever you are.  I'm sure you are in heaven now.  I will light a candle this Christmas eve in your honor and place it by my bedside. Then I will say the "Lord's Prayer."

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