Special to 0-A News
From Walter Albritton, Senior Pastor Trinity UMC
For Sunday, Dec. 27, 1998

Try seeing the world through the eyes of a child as you enter 1999

When I was a child I loved to visit the home of my mother's uncle, Dave Johnson. I suppose that made him my "great" uncle, but I never called him that. He was simply Uncle Dave, who lived with Aunt Pearl in a beautiful home on a hill. We lived in a more modest home a few miles away near a swamp, on river bottom land.

Though I never had the feeling that we were a poor family, I did understand that Uncle Dave was "rich," and he was an old man. He owed a lot of land and his home was quite fancy, much nicer than ours. His home had the first spiral stairway I had ever seen but he frowned when we slid down the banister. I always enjoyed visiting Uncle Dave because he loved children. He always had a couple of mechanical toys hidden in his desk. He liked to surprise us by letting us look at them while they performed. I can still hear him laughing as we watched with the amazement of children a little clown or some other toy dancing around on his coffee table. My favorite was the monkey that walked around in a circle while beating on a drum.

Children were not allowed to touch the toys. When Uncle Dave felt we had enjoyed them enough, he would put them back in the safe haven of his great oak desk. This, I would learn years later, was his way of insuring that the toys would be available for the next child's visit. I did not understand as a child why I was not allowed to play with the toys. Now I understand. Imitating Uncle Dave, I have bought a number of toys to use in amusing my own grandchildren. My favorite for years has been a Santa Claus, which cost me the grand sum of five dollars. Only Santa cannot enjoy his batter-powered walk anymore. One of my grandsons broke off one of his feet, so all Santa can do now is ring his little bell as his arms go back and forth. I should have been as wise as Uncle Dave and kept old Santa out of harm's way. It seems that some of the little rascals not only enjoy seeing a toy move, they also enjoy fixing it so it cannot ever move again.

When Uncle Dave's grand old home burned, it was a sad day for me. It was not easy to drive by and view the smoldering ashes of a home, which held so many happy memories for me. I wondered if his toys, still hidden in his oak desk, had also perished in the flames. How delightful it would have been to take my grandchildren to visit Uncle Dave's place. What stories I could tell them about his toys and my exciting trips down that polished banister!But the old home and Uncle Dave are gone. They are but fading memories of a childhood that seems so long ago.

Still I am here, and there are children aplenty. If I am willing I can take the time to surprise them with a toy and create a sparkle in their eyes like Uncle Dave did for me. But to do it I must be willing to stop being a stuffy old adult long enough to see the world through a child's big eyes.

My friend Bubba helps me do that. Bubba, you see, is more than a talking bear; he is like a member of the family now. Ever since I gave Bubba Bear to my wife last Christmas, old Bubba has helped us entertain the grandchildren. My wife never tires of squeezing Bubba's hand so she can hear him talk. That just may be the best forty-five dollars I ever spent. So I reckon as long as there are Bubba Bears and dancing Santas to buy, we will keep on doing what we can to make the eyes of little children- and grandmothers- sparkle with joy. Whatever else the new year brings on, it remains true that a little fun will help the medicine go down no matter your age.

Happy New Year!