Best gifts: Memories, friends and family

By David Stevens: Editor

“I don’t know if you believe in Christmas
“Or if you’ll have presents underneath the Christmas tree.
“But if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
“For you to come and celebrate with me.”

— Kermit the Frog, from the album “John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together”

Ten gifts I wish for everyone this Christmas:

1. A chance to spend time with Frank Romero.

He’s the gaming manager for Clovis’ Fraternal Order of Eagles. The Eagles give shopping sprees to 100 local kids each Christmas. Romero tells great stories about the children and their big hearts. His favorite is about a boy who bought a car battery, “so my daddy won’t have to walk to work anymore.”

2. A grandmother with a sense of humor.

I have cousins who really appreciate this treasure. They got BB guns for Christmas one year and took turns shooting their reflections in our grandmother’s mirror. She never replaced the mirror, despite the marks they left behind, and seemed to enjoy telling the story. “You don’t get so mad at your grandkids as you do your own kids,” she said.

3. A candle, a little kid, and a Bible open to the second chapter of Luke.

I don’t know why the Christmas story is so magical when told in the dark to a child holding a candle, but that’s been my experience.

4. A copy of the Christmas album “John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together.”

My favorite part is when Animal sings “run, run reindeer!”

5. A John Niland-autographed football.

Most of the guys from my generation wanted footballs autographed by Roger Staubach or Bart Starr. But if I’d received a Staubach-autographed football, it would have been placed on a shelf for safe keeping. The John Niland-autographed football was punted, passed and kicked around the yard until it went flat several seasons after the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive guard retired.

6. A sister who always gives you what you want for Christmas.

(In my case, that’s Houston Astros memorabilia and chocolate chip cookies.)

7. Football in the road.

I don’t recommend this game for those who live near U.S. Highways 60/70/84, but my cousins had a caliche field of dreams running in front of their house in the 1960s and ’70s on the west side of Muleshoe. The end zones were marked by utility poles. My favorite play was “run to Gilbert and Mario’s house, then do a button hook.”

8. Time to watch a good movie.

Of course the all-time greatest Christmas movie is Jimmy Stewart’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.” But if you’re tired of Christmas movies by now, I recommend “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and “Hud” from the classics section of your favorite video rental store.

9. Time to read a good book.

I like Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries and would also recommend Mark Harris’ “Bang the Drum Slowly” and Lewis Grizzard’s “Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You.”

10. A little boy in a Buzz Lightyear suit, a little girl feeding cherry donuts to some ducks, a first date spent driving around, looking at Christmas lights … and other fond memories of people you care about.

David Stevens is editor for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be contacted at 1-800-819-9925. His e-mail address is: