When we’re little kids, this time of year can produce precious memories that will last our entire lives. Then we grow up and life gets more complicated. But there’s great value in savoring those old memories. Salvation South editor Chuck Reece tells us why in this week’s commentary.

Chuck Reece Christmas morning photo

Chuck Reece on his prized rocking horse he got for Christmas. It's one of his first and most treasured Christmas memories.

Credit: Chuck Reece



Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: Here it is Christmas time, and I’ve got a story to tell about exactly that.

There’s a band from Dallas, Texas, that I’ve loved for the last 30 years. They’re called the Old 97’s, and a few years ago, they wrote a Christmas song that I just adore called “Here It Is Christmas Time.”

And the song starts with these words:


Old 97’s: When we are born we are swaddled and suckled / Whispered to, fussed over, tickled and cuddled / When we grow up, things get muddled / And here it is, Christmas time.

Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: Now, ain’t that the truth? Things do get muddled as we get older. And the older I get, the more I believe that Christmas gives us a little time to un-muddle ourselves. Business slows down and even stops. Families lay down their daily burdens and reunite. And we all have some time to wrap ourselves in memories. Specifically, memories of Christmas.

I have a picture of myself, joyfully bouncing back and forth on a rocking horse as my mom and dad smile at me. They’re both in their bathrobes. Dad’s got a bad case of bedhead — his hair sticking out on both sides. Mom has her 1960s hairdo pulled up and protected in a hair net.

Now, I remember that day well, and I think it’s probably my very first memory. I was almost 2 years old. I woke up that morning to a pile of gifts from Santa Claus, but that wasn’t everything. My parents and my Uncle Bob had cooked up something special. A little later in the morning, Uncle Bob — who was shaped very much like Santa — showed up on our front porch with that rocking horse.


Little boy: Wow!

Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: Man, it was such a marvelous thing. The horse was mounted on a thick spring that was bolted to a heavy wooden base. You could rock every which way on it. So I started rocking — kind of a metaphor for how I, as a ridiculous music nerd, have spent my life ever since.

I held on to that memory — vague though it was — for many years until I actually found the photo of it that caught me in the act, screaming wildly as I rocked on that horse. I look at that picture most every year, because it’s the happiest Christmas memory I own. It takes me back to the time when — as the song says — I was whispered to, fussed over, tickled and cuddled.

No matter how happy or sad your own childhood might have been, I bet you have at least one delicious memory like mine. My wish for y’all is that you can drag out those memories and wallow around in them like a warm and toasty blanket. Because here it is: Christmas time.


Old 97’s: All I want is you for Christmas.

Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: Come visit us at Salvation South.

Salvation South editor Chuck Reece comments on Southern culture and values in a weekly segment that airs Fridays at 7:45 a.m. during Morning Edition and 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on GPB Radio. You can also find them here at GPB.org/Salvation-South and now on your favorite podcast platforms as well.