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Laugh Again

Milton's White Christmas

 

Last updated 4/8/2020 at 3:01pm

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Ah, winter. That season when our mothers draped us in 40 pounds of parka, thick mittens and winter boots so heavy you could barely walk to school.

"You'll catch your death of cold," mom said while she wrapped four or five scarves around my head and pulled them so tight that I could see stars. I had to feel my way to school. If I fell over, I rolled a little, but I couldn't get up. I just stayed in a snowdrift until school was over and someone had mercy on me.

Other than that, I loved winter. Snow meant snow forts, snow men and plunging downhill on rickety toboggans. I often found myself beneath piles of snow with my brothers perched atop. If my sister didn't dig me out, I may still be there. I was the youngest, so I would hide somewhere, rain down four or five hard-packed snowballs straight at my brothers, then run like the wind.

As I aged, snow lost its magic. It became inconvenient. Uncomfortable. It got in my boots, in my ears, covered my car, my driveway, my sidewalk. And when I removed it with a shovel over and over again, I thought, This is like cleaning the house with toddlers around.

I saw the white stuff and longed for green stuff. I fired up search engines and hunted for cheap flights to the tropics. When that first November or October or July blizzard hit, I griped and groaned and grabbed my shovel.

Then Milton came to town.

He came from Uganda to stay with my son Steve. Milton had heard of snow, but hadn't seen it. The day after he arrived in Canada, the cold stuff left the dark clouds above and descended, landing all around him like a soft blanket of white was slowly spread on the ground.

The rest of us mourned the loss of summer, but not Milton. He danced and giggled and cheered. He frolicked in the snow like a giddy school kid, building his very first snow man, tasting his very first snowflake.

"I am so blessed to see this," he said. "I love snow!"

Shivering Canadians looked at him as if he should go look for his marbles. Milton didn't care. Like the laughing children around him, he was having too much fun.

"God loves me so much," he said. "He let me see snow."

Suddenly I found myself grinning and thanking God for that snow. Thanking God that Milton got to see it. And I thought, How did I lose the wonder of childhood? Would it ever return?

For so many years snow meant ice hockey and snowballs and forts and toboggans. Then it came to mean cold and shoveling and frozen appendages. Milton helped me see things differently, and reminded me of a verse in Isaiah 1:18-a verse that speaks of snow and reminds me of the wonder of God's mercy. My translation is: "Come, let's talk this over!" says the Lord; "no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!"

Today, Milton is back in warm sunny Uganda. And so, in honor of him, I think I'll put on 40 pounds of clothing and roll to work.

Phil Callaway speaks, writes books, and has a radio show called Laugh Again. Visit him at philcallaway.com

 
 

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