The patchy, gray light of dawn streamed through the windows as I crept soundlessly through the kitchen, past my parents' bedroom to the living room door. I could see in the shadows that shapes had changed in the room overnight.
Just as my brothers peeked around another living room door, the voice of my mother startled us, " What are doing? It's too early to get up. Go back to bed." Well, it was 5:00 a.m., but we went, knowing we could get up when we smelled cinnamon rolls cooking.
Later as we attacked the living room doors, we saw in all their glory our first bikes. Mine was blue and chrome, my brother Mike's was red and shiny, and our baby brother Rob had a new tricycle. What a glorious morning!
After cinnamon rolls, we had to travel to Abilene to our uncle's house for Christmas dinner. The new bikes were loaded in the back of the truck, and we five crowded into the truk cab for the forty mile trip.
My uncle lived downwind from Mrs. Baird's Bakery on the south side of Abilene. By the time we arrived there, a cold wind was blowing small snowflakes through the trees surrounding his house. Nevertheless, my brother and I clamored for our first bike-riding lesson. And so it was that my dad took hold of my bike seat, and my uncle held Mike's as we rolled down the small hill in front of Uncle Bud's house..
The street was full of the smell of baking bread as we parted the snowflakes with our shouts of joy and pain. After several tries, Mike and I were riding alone toward the bakery with Rob trailing behind on his trike. My dad and uncle were running behind yelling, "Slow down! Slow down!"
Almost every Christmas since that 9th one, I look back at the taste of freedom my first bike brought, remembering the steadying hand of my father and the smell of baking bread.