It’s that time again. You know, right after Thanksgiving, when the taste of turkey and dressing is getting old; the smell of peppermint mixes with fruitcake and Christmas is three long weeks around the corner; the same every year since Jesus was born.

I sit here watching the leaves dance gaily as the wind tosses them playfully about — and slowly a change of scene overtakes. Time has taken liberties; the landscape is different. It’s Christmas, 65 years ago; the trees whisper and sigh along the tall branches as they reluctantly let go of the remaining once-gold-now-brown leaves as they fall rustling in a pile.

I am 8 years old and school is out for Christmas; I am sitting in the chinaberry tree in our backyard. Not very high, because the trees do not grow sittin’ high, but this one has. I’m a tomboy; I can catch a softball thrown as hard as Jerry Cannon can throw it. (Jerry’s a big boy and he can throw HARD.)

But I’m dreaming of Santa Claus, and what he’s going to bring me! I’ve been praying for a red, white and blue bicycle; I had just discovered the mysteries of prayer. Nancy Cornutt (Albert) had insisted on my coming to Vacation Bible School in June and the prospects of praying had just been presented. See, all you had to do was ask God for something and He gave it to you! Simple as that!

Nancy tried to explain that prayer didn’t always work that way, but that’s what our Sunday School teacher, Miss Doris Penland, said; anything she said was true! I told Nancy as much; just then her mother called her for supper and the subject was closed.

Nobody mentioned Santa again until a few days before Christmas, when my Granddaddy Herman asked me what he was going to bring me. I snuggled up to him and whispered my wish. He didn’t blink an eye, but went to see my what my grandmother wanted from Joe Herndon’s store.

Christmas Eve at my grandparents was filled with jokes and gentle family stories and, most of all, laughter. An aluminum, color-wheel lighted Christmas tree was the center of attraction. Uncle Frank silently unbuttoned his pants, too much turkey and dressing! Aunt Jean, Aunt Jo and Aunt Janet waited till everyone was seated and ready for presents. Uncle Bunky tossed the gifts with abandon; everyone was satisfied, full and happy!

That was the night that my heart’s wish came true. The morning after actually seeing Santa, or dreaming I saw him, a red, white and blue bicycle waited for me in the living room.

And if you’ve read this column forever, you know a part of this story — about why I will always believe in Santa, Christmas, prayer and waiting on God’s perfect timing; why a little red-haired girl grew up to know all the wonderful people in Gadsden; why knowing the meaning of Christmas is the most important gift my family and my city could give, ‘round town!

Glenda Byars is a correspondent for The Gadsden Times. Send submissions to glendabyars@comcast.net.