Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Obligatory Christmas Story

We always did our thing the night of Christmas Eve. It must have had something to do with my folks’ work schedule.

When I was 4 we lived in a 6 family flat off of DeBaliviere. We lived on the 3rd floor.

My parents had a cruel sense of humor. My dad would read stories to us in the bedroom. My mom would bust into the room yelling, “Quick, quick, Santa’s here, you’re going to miss him!” My brother and I would run out and find the front door open. “He just left, you can still catch him!” We’d run all the way downstairs but we’d just miss him.

This was the same year I learned about Christmas stockings. I’m not sure where I found out, probably TV. I took a pair of my dad’s black socks so my brother and I would each have one. I took my dad’s because he had the biggest feet, and nailed them to the wall. In retrospect I should have gotten in trouble, but instead we found a pair of real Christmas stockings hanging in their place the next day.

This was when toys were fun. I got a Winchester rifle. It was probably inspired by the television show “The Rifleman.” It shot real plastic bullets. These bullets also went in a six-shooter.

One of my favorite toys was a bazooka that shot an invisible ball of wind. We soon discovered you could fire rocks and dirt from it. It didn’t last very long on the market. I think it went the way of Jarts, those giant lawn darts with the steel tips.

There was a pattern to the way gifts were distributed around the tree every year. The smaller gifts would be opened and there’d be 2 left. My brother’s always came first. One year it was a train set. I was crushed. There was only a small box left under the tree and nothing could be better that a train set. I was wrong. Mine was a walkie-talkie set. This was the early 60s and we didn’t have high tech toys back then. For the next couple of weeks we were the Man From U.N.C.L.E..

Another year my brother opened his and it was a toy drum kit. I was convinced nothing could possibly beat this. I was wrong again. I got a chemistry set. I wanted desperately to become a scientist. This was where I got the ingredients for my gun powder.

That same year there was a present under the tree for me from my father’s best friend Bill Shear. It was totally unnerving because he had been dead more than a year. It was a really cool electronics project kit. I later found out his wife Georgia had it lying around the house and thought I would really like it. I did!

The Christmas before my dad died my girl friend Jill and I had my folks over for the holidays. I gave him a trumpet and I’ll never forget seeing tears well up in his eyes. I inherited it of course.


dominic said...

How long did the "Quick- quick- Santa's here!" last? I can just see you and Patrick at that age runnin down the stairs... cute- funny cruel but very cute!

Our family did X-man Eve as well. We'd go out and look at the lights and the tree at home was empty of gifts. Oh- we'd also leave cookies n milk fer Santa. It was always George, then later Daniel that stayed behind... after an half an hour or so we'd come back and voila!!! Santa came! Cookies and milk graciously consumed.

Doggie said...

By the time I had kids we actually had a fire place. Cookies, milk and a carrots for the reindeer were left next to it. One year we had a mouse that came in through a vent located about 4 inches from the floor. My kids hung a small ornamental stocking by it with a small cookie sticking out. The next morning crumbs and carrot stubs were everywhere.

dominic said...

Sweet! Maybe i should put a little stocking out for mine! (mouse, i mean) thanks for the idea and Gary Krimble!

Anonymous said...

I grew up running down the stairs Christmas morning to see the glory of a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts.

Your father's family celebrated Christmas Eve because your dad's father worked for the old St. Louis Dairy Company which later became Sealtest. He had to get up early to make his delivery rounds so everything they did revolved around that schedule.

I was blown away by Dylan and Chloe wanting the mouse to have a Merry Christmas every year.

Your Mom

Valerie Pennington said...

I forgot all about the carrot for the reindeer!
We did xmas morning, but everyone got to pick one present to open xmas eve. AND we couldn't dive in until my grandparents Grace and Sam arrived. Memory is a faulty thing, but it always seemed to me that every year we tried to hustle them into the house through at least a foot of snow, hoping they wouldn't fall down and break anything.

...Sharon said...

I remember tossing about in bed for hours, listening to the magic of Xmas as Santa was hammering and making all sorts of noise (turned out to be a child-size picnic table and a bicycle). I wanted so much to sneak a peak but if I set one foot on the ground he would leave, taking the loot with him. I was 5 years old.

I wonder how my father did it. Seems he never could assemble anything with out swearing like a sailor. I take after him.

Valerie Pennington said...

My favorite present was the year my folks got me a tape recorder - oh, the little shows my sister and I made - I wish I still had them!
Xmas morning the tape was full of my Dad saying, "Merry Christmas, heh, heh, heh . . . Shit! Is this the button you push?"

Anonymous said...

Merry Cristmas! John Gorski

Doggie said...

Gary Nimble to all of ya!!