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At Christmastime, you look back at the year you just lived and you find some years are better than others. My mama passed away from a fall in the shower bath last spring.

We gathered all the relatives together down south at the Minster Funeral Home. We had cousins, aunts, nephews and folks we hadn't seen in many years. Rev. Roland 0. Rivers precipitated the service. A sad time as our mother passed into Beulah Land.

The little child we were caring for a couple of years went back with her mama since she finished up her business with the state. It left a hole in our hearts.

It caused me a spiritual slip slide to be sure. I started taking a nip of the juniper berry and smoking again.

I got careless in my work here at the laundromat. My wife told me to straighten up or she'd be on the next bus one way to someplace else.

I could hear my mama's words in my ears to straighten up and see her shaking her finger at me in my mind. Once again, the church house has been my salvation.

I set my feet upon a rock. The storm came but I was not washed away. Our young pastor is wise beyond his years, offering good advice.

We had unfinished business with my mama's estate, some bills to pay and now we own her two Cocker Spaniel dogs. I am fortunate my boss is a patient man. He saw me through my spell and even got me trained to service the big 44-pound and 75-pound Wascomat washers at work.

After a low time sometimes comes a blessing. A little insurance money from the policy mama bought from a TV ad allowed Rowena and me to take a short trip to Memphis. We stood along the Mississippi River and watched the sunset and went to the Elvis house.

Like every other year, I'll be playing the sax in the Christmas service at the Full Time Gospel Church. This year I'm doing a medley of "Good King Wencelslaw" and "Midnight Train to Georgia."

Sometimes I wonder how old I got to be to get some sense in my head, ain't there yet. I am grateful for the life I have and my homestead. Christmastime brings home all the good things in life and I wish you and yours a happy family time.

Porter writes from Woodbine.