it was december 23

i don’t remember the year

i was young

maybe second grade

it was almost dark

my dad had returned from the mountains with bags and bags of apples

he delivered them to the people who worked for him

a holiday gesture of love

yes love

he asked me to join him in his gift giving

as we drove the streets of my life

front porches were lit

wreaths on doors

through a window the flicker of reds


and blues

twinkled in a muted haze of christmas

we went house to house

then we drove into what was then called colored town

by the railroad tracks was a white frame house with a big front porch

my dad said i will be right back

he rang the bell and a colored lady answered the door

she invited him inside

he turned to me and held up one finger

i sat in the big front seat and waited

watching for my dad to come back

a few minutes later they returned to the porch with a man I knew

it was richard the custodian at the schools

daddy was laughing and talking

he hugged the lady and walked down the steps

i heard him say merry christmas

he got back into the car

he was quiet for a minute

he started the car and said

they are fine people.

the finest

we drove home

dinner was ready and the house felt warm and safe

i really do not remember what gift i received from santa that year

i just remember that color is christmas lights and gifts with ribbons


people are the finest