The Greatest Gift of All

Candles on pine

Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…

The Greatest Gift of All

I left Fort Knox on September 13th, 1969, to start a new life in Herrin, Illinois with my wife and three-month-old daughter.

Leaving the military was a little scary.

Candles on pine

The Army was security. I was guaranteed employment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. My housing was paid for. Had I reenlisted, my medical expenses would’ve been covered for me and my family, too.

But it was time for a new chapter. And I was obligated to provide for my family. That was instilled in me by my father. My brothers and I were expected to work for what we had and to be proud, honorable citizens of this great country.

Dad was a lineman and my mother worked at Holden Hospital. We did not grow up poor, but extravagance was kept to a minimum.

That prepared me for my job with Lukens Refrigeration, where I earned $1.50 an hour.

Candles on pine

Patricia and I rented a house on south Nineteenth Street in Herrin. That’s where we celebrated our first Christmas as a family.

Patricia decorated the house and baked cookies. I cut down a Christmas tree. We ate ham for dinner. Patricia gave me a billfold. I gave her a box of body powder. Baby Stephanie got a rubber ducky. That was it.

And y’know... that was a great Christmas. It shined a light on the true meaning of the day.

Candles on pine

Presents are nice. But too many gifts can overshadow the true purpose of Christmas.

We were brought closer together that Christmas because we had so little. All we had was our little family and my job.

When I look back at where Patricia and I came from to where we are now, it’s humbling. We’re not extravagant, but we are blessed.

You are, too.

I hope you get some nice presents this year. But don’t forget to give thanks to God for the greatest gift of all: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Be well. Stay well. Merry Christmas.

Francis Pass.

P.S. – According to that big book of world records, the tallest Christmas tree was 221 feet tall at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle. Now that’s extravagance.

Christmas tree with lights