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Bill Ellis: Christmas memories and the golden angel

Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:18 AM

New Christmas memories become more precious with each passing year.  They could include a baby’s first Christmas, a mother’s last Christmas, the first Christmas for a newly married couple, a man and his wife.

I will remember the wonderful things that happened in our community, county, churches and country. Some of the television and radio programs were designed to bless. Others were embarrassing, filled with nonsense without humor or meaning.  

For the 59th consecutive year, I heard Kitty as a soloist in Christmas music that she has performed in churches and on radio and television.  

Some ate too much during this Christian Holy Day. I did not. Personal discipline was involved in the first story of Christmas.  

Yes, I saw, “A Christmas Story” again on television. My personal Daisy “Red Ryder” BB gun has lost its power, perhaps the main spring is broken. Like Ralphie Parker, star of this Christmas movie, I was reminded, “Don’t shoot somebody’s eye out with that gun.”

One of the joys of Christmas is that of being in touch with family members. We are always thrilled to hear from Elizabeth and Mark, our grandchildren, my brother “Whitey,” his wife, Pat, and son, Dennis. We also keep in touch with Kitty’s three sisters, one brother and getting caught up on all our nephews and nieces. Christmas has always been about family.

What about the little cloth-draped “golden angel” at the top of our tree since 1998? In the spring of that year, I was invited to speak to a gathering of three Rotary Clubs at Keystone, W.Va. Kitty sang two songs for an appreciative audience. Her performance far exceeded mine.

After the meeting, many of the men gathered around her to talk. Most of those men who worked in the coal mines of the area were natives of Italy. I remember their comments. “You sing like an opera singer. We do not like hillbilly and country singing. When we go back to Italy for visits, we always go to the opera to hear good music. Your singing reminds us of our homeland.”

One of the Rotarians was Billie Jean Cherry, who served as mayor of Keystone (pop. 600) for more than a decade and was Chairwoman of the First National Bank. We were with her at the bank and a guided tour visit in her mansion at nearby Maybeury. She said, “When you come back next year maybe we can all stay here.” Sadly, there was no next time.  

When we prepared to leave, Billie gave to Kitty a little golden angel, which has been at the top of our tree every year since. She died in Lexington, Ky., of a cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 28, 2007. We remember her as a lovely lady whose company we enjoyed immensely for two days in 1998.  

Thank you, Billie Cherry. My favorite Christmas Bible verse, “. . . there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). That is the meaning of Christmas. May all your good Christmas memories last forever. Happy New Year!

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.