They say Christmas is for the kids or the young, and I would have trouble arguing with that statement. Although at this age I find much more pleasure in giving than receiving, even that activity is less memorable than when I did it in my youth. It's not hard to take the money out of a pre-arranged Christmas club account and go to several stores to spend it. It is hard to break open your piggy bank and count the pennies and nickels and then agonize what you can spend the money on and who. I'm not a Christmas Scrooge, but I do like to think about how magical and overwhelming the emotions were in the time when my pajamas used to cover my feet and there was a zipper in the front and a snap up butt flap in the back....
We would go to bed early the night before under the threat of "the naughty list", but we could never sleep. My brother Redface and I would talk until the wee hours about what might be under our tree in the morning. Bikes were a common wish, but clothes were a more common reality. We had bikes, but we always wanted bigger,better and with cooler options. We would finally fade off to sleep, but even then we dreamed of the presents beneath the tree. We never had to set an alarm, we just woke up at the crack of dawn. The next part though, was kind of tricky. We weren't
|Picture 12 kids by 2 filling these stairs.|
OOPS, I missed a step. My dad was an electrician's mate in the Navy, and he was responsible for playing the music on the ship. He inherited some old equipment and tapes, and especially liked an old Wollensak reel to reel recorder. Many Christmas mornings, he would set this up first
dodgeball team, but it actually was worse than that. The other thing you wanted to avoid, was the dreaded "shared present". I remember clearly the year I got the Walkie and my brother Redface got the Talkie. I'd seen them sold in pairs in the store, but that's not how my Christmas present came. It forced me to get along with my brother for a while, but inevitably we would fight and then my present wasn't as useful as intended. There truly is nothing that looks sadder than a kid in his coat and boots (with Millbrook bread bags hanging out of them), walking around Fort Hill with a Walkie, talking to himself. Occasionally you'd pick up conversations between truckers or cab drivers. A word of warning, if you do, these are not the "new" words you want to bring home and teach to your siblings (I can still taste the soap). My dad would continue to hand out all the presents until the last branch was shook and there were no more. The teenagers sometimes would go back to bed at this point, but for me, I had a bunch of new toys and things that screamed to be played with and tot-tested. The year I got the slinky, it lasted 8 minutes. "They walk down stairs, alone or in pairs, and make a slinkity sound....." Bullshit.
You know what you really get when you and your brother race your 87 foot coiled springs down the stairs all hopped up on Christmas candy, cookies and adrenalin? 174 feet of hopelessly tangled, stretched out steel. Try putting that back in the box and returning it.
Christmas morning was a time when you also found out the true meaning of "caveat emptor", let the buyer beware. How about your dreams of reigning over mass villages of sea monkeys, only to find out you were raising brine shrimp? Don't even get me started on my 5th grade fiasco with my X-ray glasses. I remember mailing a bunch of pennies and a slip from the back of an Archies comic book to get one of these things, and it actually arrived a few weeks later. I'm still amazed now that I think about it, that the envelope got through the mail to the place. I had a friend, later in life, that mailed her dinner pancakes to "The starving children in Africa", but that is not a Christmas story, she just didn't like pancakes, but I digress.....
|an unknown street in Buffalo during the 77 Blizzard|