Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
Christmas Lights on the Barn!
When was your best Christmas?
I certainly remember mine.
Like it was yesterday. I had experienced some rather trying
years back then and let’s just say the “Christmas Spirit”
hadn’t been around for some time. Spent the last few years
alone. No gifts exchanged, no Christmas tree, and no
Christmas lights. Then something happened. The phone rang,
and I said…
“Dr. Johnson? This is Patsy Bolton. Do you remember
“Certainly I do, Mrs. Bolton. I never forget
“Remember when you came to our school and I bought your
audio books for my granddaughter?
I took a deep breath and said to myself, “How could
I ever forget that.”
On that day, Mrs. Bolton, the Superintendent of Sulphur
Springs, Texas ISD had appeared before my booth with an
armload of audio CDs.
“My goodness,” I said. “Why so many? Are you buying
those for the school?”
“No,” she said. “I’m buying them for me
granddaughter. She’s nine years old and she loves audio
books. She’s blind, you see.”
Her words slammed into me like a hollow-point. That
was the moment in my life when I knew what it must feel like
to be shot. The child had “retinoblastoma” and in her case,
was left with a family that had to decide to take her eyes
because of the cancer or let her die.
“We chose life,” said Mrs. Bolton.
And now on this day, Mrs. Bolton continued, “Of course
we have all sorts of presents for Tacey, but when we asked
her what she wanted Santa to bring her, she said, ‘More than
anything else in the world, I wish I could talk to Little
Blue on the phone.’ She has fallen in love with that horse
in your book who speaks so rapidly with his speech
impediment that prevents him from saying “R’s”. So we were
wondering if it might be possible to “hire” Little Blue to
give that precious child a special gift from Santa? Would
Blue do that – and what might he “charge” us?”
“Yes, he would, Mrs. Bolton,” I said. “But let me
suggest something that I think Blue would want to do even
more for no charge. Why don’t you bring that child to our
farm and let her not only talk to Blue…but she could ride
Shortly before their arrival, I had a Christmas tree in
the den and found myself furiously stringing Christmas
lights all over the barn. I was a bit worried when I saw
them coming up the lane to the farm because I didn’t know
exactly what I would do when I met Tacey. She stepped from
the back seat holding her grandmother’s hand - a beautiful
child not deformed from the illness. And her grandmother
said, “Here’s Michael, dear.” She didn’t say hello, she
didn’t giggle, she just looked so intently at me and said,
“You know that story you wrote about going to the North Pole
and roping on those reindeer with Santa and Mrs. Clause –
and how you rode those reindeer and they were so warm and
fuzzy that you weren’t even cold? You ‘member that?”
“Yes,” I said. “I do.”
“Well,” she said, “I just want to ask you something,
and I want you to tell me true…
was that real?”
I bent down by her pretty face with my mouth close
to her ear and whispered, “Of course it was, you silly
child. Do you think I could make something like that
And to the arena we went where Blue, Shine, and Joe Ben
were saddled and waiting. I lifted her up onto Blue and
after just a moment, I heard something come from inside her.
Soft and low, but I could hear it. It was laughter with joy
in it. And then to my surprise, I heard it again. This
time it came from Blue.
And round and round we went from one end of the arena
to the other, with Tacey laughing all the way. A sunny,
crisp, cold, starched shirt of a winter day. Round and
round we went. Dusk was coming on when they drove away and
the barn lights twinkled on. The thought occurred to me
those lights on the barn gave me such joy, and I told Sherry
“Me, too,” she said.
“But it’s funny, you know,” I said. “I put the barn
lights up for Tacey and Blue – but since Blue never goes
around to the front of the barn, he can’t see them. And
Tacey…well, she can’t see them either ‘cause…well, ‘cause
she can’t see them.”
“Oh, I think they knew they were there,” Sherry said,
Their car lights disappeared from view and we stood
there looking at the Christmas barn lights.
“Boy,” Sherry said. “We got the Christmas Spirt now,
BLUE and MIGUEL
Sharon and Rowdy