I am a Christmas stocking hung on the fireplace mantle. I see my owner alone, pondering her future. Last night the house was filled with gaiety everywhere. The people ate for what seemed like hours. They opened gifts, and I was as curious as they were to see the oohs, and ahs as each recipient opened their own special present. The children were especially excited to play with something new. I am amazed as I have watched these children grow, for I am a treasure that has been in my owner’s life for twenty-five years. I have seen much as each Christmas I have been placed in a prominent spot and filled with goodies. However, this year is different. This year I and my owner are all alone on Christmas morning. She is sad, I think, not sure of what she should do this year. I hear a knock at the door and she answers it. There stands her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, still in their pajamas. They bring in breakfast and more gifts. I am surprised to hear them say, “Mom, we knew you should not be alone today. We planned this all along.” I am relieved as I see my owner’s face turn from sadness to joy. In a few weeks I will be put away, but this break from tradition was the best Christmas ever! I am a pleased Christmas stocking.
A beautiful, sunny, cloudless day in Arizona welcomed us as we drove toward the Hopi Indian Reservation, accessed by travel through the Navajo Indian Reservation. The spectacular scenery consisted of flat land with an occasional butte jutting up to lace the landscape with colors almost beyond description. We were on our way to volunteer at the Hopi Indian Mission School in Kykotsmovia, Arizona. I would be tutoring; my husband scheduled to do maintenance and repair. The sun began to set as we neared our destination and it cast eerie shadows over the buttes. As if to provide a backdrop to the grandeur, a distant mountain range with snow-covered peaks captured our attention.
There were no homes or any other signs of life until we approached the town and school grounds. There the colorful beauty turned to bleak desolation. Unexpected gusts of wind rocked our fifth wheel, home for the next month. The few dwellings we observed resembled shacks. Car tires piled on top of the roofs served as protection against the constant turbulence. Later we would learn…
This is an excerpt from a story in my memoir. It also won first place at the Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium this past June. There to volunteer, the experience changed my life in more ways than I could imagine.