An Enduring Fireside Chat

Compared to where we’ve just come from, the road ahead looks a little bleak. We just burned through three major holidays in less than five weeks. The shopping-eating-meeting-greeting frenzy is finally over. The Christmas lights have been turned off for the last time, the decorations taken down and the Frasier fur from Berry’s Christmas Tree Farm tossed out; and it’s cold outside. 

Don’t get me wrong. Beyond all the commercialism, I love the renewed sense of blessing and joy these holidays bring, but seasons come and go—a good thing, too, in a way. Who could keep up with such intensity? Friends and family travel back home and we return to work, albeit begrudgingly. Take comfort: We have next year to look forward to and memories from years past to warm our hearts. 

I remember once upon a time when my dad and my Uncle Turner were enjoying their rural north Mississippi version of a fireside chat. On that cold, dark winter’s night 60 years ago, the glow from the fireplace lit up their faces, their conversation interrupted only by the occasional precision-guided, tobacco-laced spit into the sizzling fire. Flickering flames from the cavernous fireplace cast shadows that magically danced across wooden floors, up bare walls and onto the high ceiling overhead. Big, sturdy chairs rocked slowly, rhythmically back and forth, squeaking and groaning under the load. Smelling like heaven, the burning wood popped, crackled and wrapped us all comfortably in its blanket. A captivated little boy tried to take it all in, a seemingly ordinary moment that he somehow would never forget. 

As I sit here now, gazing long into the fire burning before me, the years melt away. I close my eyes just for a moment, and I am there once again. 

Click here to read more stories by David Roten.

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