More than 25 Christmas seasons ago, my children Annie and John Scott asked for new bicycles for Christmas.
At that time, we lived in a newly developed area. Behind our house was a giant dirt pile where the contractors had leveled off the lots to build new homes. Our children were little and the attraction of this dirt pile was thoroughly unique to them. They quickly began to refer to it as “the mountain.”
It was only a huge glorified dirt heap, but that made no difference to our two. They told everyone at school they had a mountain behind their house.
The mountain was a place of great adventure. Annie and John Scott pushed their little bikes up the hill and then rode down its sides. At other times, rain came and the children concocted a remarkable plan. The sides of the dirt pile would become really slick. That’s when the kids discovered they could slide tummy down to the bottom. This made a huge mess with mud in their hair and all over their clothes, but getting muddy was all part of the wonderful experience.
The mountain was the center of many events. We held a mini-cookout on the side of the mountain, complete with hot dogs and marshmallows. With some imagination, the mountain was a mighty hill to see afar, eyeing pretend desperadoes across the way. Sometimes the dirt pile was a mountain thick with jungle brush and fierce dangers down below.
The mountain had great intrigue and the mountain was the reason the kids wanted new bikes. They thought a hill of that size could only be conquered with new and heavier bicycles.
Yet, it all changed one day.
We were coming home from school and as we turned onto our street, what we saw was something that upset us all: There was a dump truck and a big front-end loader.
Our wonderful mountain was being scooped away little by little. When we left for school that morning the dirt pile was a lookout for desperadoes, but by that afternoon it was really only a little dirt pile. All day long the men had whittled away at it and, as a result, a chapter closed on a wonderful play place.
That was a disappointing day for all of us. When the children received bikes that Christmas, there was no mountain to ride down. They had to adapt to the change and find a new place to ride their new bikes. This unanticipated and unexpected experience thrust the children into the reality of living in a world that changes daily.
Many years have passed since that year of the mountain and the bicycles given as Christmas gifts. That experience helps me to remember that life changes; our lives never do say the same. The innkeeper, shepherds and wise men are now living in a place of time without end. The manger that once cradled the Christ child has turned to dust. The stable that gave shelter for the birth of the King of Kings has long ceased to stand. The participants in that census at Bethlehem have long been gone. The constant is that God’s love for all of us has never changed and never will.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: