It was many years ago that I sat there on the floor
With Aunt Allie and my cousins, we knew what was in store.
The clan was gathered there around the Christmas tree
Just eagerly awaiting their Christmas gifts to see.
There was Billy Joe and Grady Earl and pretty Bonnie Lou
I can’t remember Martha – She might have been there too.
All these kids, aged six to nine, were very close to me
And when you saw just one of us you’d see two or three.
Now, Christmas gifts at my house were opened Christmas eve
But presents in aunt Allie’s home, were saved ‘til morning, don’t you see.
I’d had my Christmas presents; there were quite a lot.
So I’d gone on down to Auntie’s to see what they all got.
They took turns opening their gifts – around the room they’d go.
The first one up was Bonnie Lou – ladies first, you know
Bonnie gave a gleeful shout and raised her present high,
Just what she’d wanted for so long -- a portable hi-fi.
Grady Earl was next to see what Santa had in store,
He left cousin Grady skates that he’d been savin’ for.
Billy Joe was anxious to see if it were true
That if you had not been real good, it’s switches there for you.
Well, Billy didn’t have to wait too long to find what was in store
A box as big as China was coming through the door.
Now generally big boxes meant something really good
And when they opened up this box, a new bicycle stood.
All this Christmas giving went on an hour or so
When people began watchin’ me and started talkin’ low.
They tried to look so normal as they continued on
When I heard one kid whisper, “There’s nothin’ here for John.”
I’d opened presents earlier and I thought that they all knew
I was only there to witness, not to gather me a few.
It was not long, I’d say; just a minute, maybe two --
Someone handed me a package, saying, “John, this is for you.”
Something wrapped in tissue was now held in my hand –
I really tried to protest – They didn’t understand.
Their love for me was genuine and, me? – I felt the same.
They were somehow embarrassed that no gift bore my name.
I pulled away the ribbon from the tissue they’d prepared --
I know their love was all wrapped up in what was lying there.
At first it was puzzling as I looked into their faces,
For lying there was a brand-new pair of simple shoelaces.
Though I didn’t understand it on that day so long ago
The meaning of the laces continues to grow and grow.
Innocence was present then and few will now recall --
Young minds can seldom comprehend the meaning of it all.
Sweet memories of Christmas past now fill the summer air
As I stand here looking down at the marker lying there.
Bill and all the other kids have now all gone away,
But the meaning of the shoestrings comforts me today.
Written by John Posey