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The Prodigal - A True Texas Christmas Story


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Once upon a time not so long ago, on a farm in north central Texas, there lived an older couple whose 2 daughters had flown the nest, the time having come for each one to make her own nest.

Younger Daughter was headstrong, argumentative, independent-

in fact, she was exactly like her father!

She & he had argued, they had shouted, they had stomped their feet.

and it got worse:

She married young (the wrong boy!)

She had children young (rash!)

She moved out of state (outrageous!)

When she placed one of her sporadic calls home, the family made sure that they all got to talk to her before Dad got on the line:

no matter how civilly the conversation started, within minutes, they'd hear Dad's voice rising, & rising, & rising, followed by the sound of a telephone being banged down into its cradle.

The Older (Good) Daughter, meanwhile, listened to her parents, made good grades, dated nice boys, finished college before marrying the perfect son-in-law, stayed close & helped her parents, & was, therefore....

taken entirely for granted.

The years rocked on.

Dad had a heart attack one summer, & he wasn't doing at all well.

He was under strict doctor's orders to take his medicine, do his light exercise, watch his blood pressure, & behave himself.

So he sat down in his recliner, glaring at the television, brooding about his health, & sinking into melancholy.

Good Daughter got an excited call from Mom one autumn afternoon:

Dad was (at last!) out of doors!

He was picking up the pecans that had fallen from their dozens of pecan trees.

When the pecans were all gathered into bushel baskets, Dad would shell them for pies & cakes & fill Mason jars with them for Christmas presents, just as he had done every autumn of his married life.

Good Daughter heaved a sigh of relief:

Things were looking up!

Then her phone rang again.


There had been a letter from Younger Daughter.

She had saved a little money & was flying home for the holidays, bringing the 2 small grandchildren that her parents & sister had not yet met.

Younger Daughter closed her letter thus:

"I can't wait to get back home.

"I still remember picking up pecans with Daddy when I was a little girl.

"We'd put them in bushel baskets & bring them inside, & shell them, & make presents by filling Mason jars with pecans & tying ribbons around the top.

"I can't tell you how many times these rich memories have comforted & sustained me in some of the hard years.

"I hope the pecans make a good crop this year.

"I'm looking forward to picking up pecans with my Daddy once again, & I want my own 2 little ones to have the same kind of memories of Christmas on the farm with their mom & grandparents, memories that may sustain them in the future.

"Your Loving Daughter..."

Mom told Older Daughter she was very worried:

When Dad had finished reading the letter, he had gone outside & stood, facing the sunset, not speaking, not moving.

Could Older Daughter come?

Older Daughter flung on her coat & drove to the farm as fast as she could.

She felt a wave of panic when she drove through the gate:

She could see her father doing something with his arms, bending, then making big arcs.

Was he having another heart attack?

Was he trying to signal his distress?

Then she saw the bushel baskets by his feet.

Her Daddy was flinging every pecan back under the trees.

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This made me cry....how could you post something like this? A tough ol' TExan like me hates to be reduced to tears and an aching heart with out a beer and Jerry Jeff Walker playing on a juke box in an old Gruene dance hall.

I am hurting here. I think it's the pecans.


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When I grew up in Texas, we had pecan trees and we would fill big grocery sacks with them, and my mother would make those delicious cakes, brownies, cookies, fudge and divinity with them. Somewhere I have a picture of David when he was about 4, standing under one of those pecan trees. Anyway, I loved this story! I can see them all now, helping the new grandchldren gather pecans.


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