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Favorite Christmas memories

posted 12/24/2013 8:02:21 PM |
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I was sitting here at home tonight reflecting back on Christmas's past. Like when I was a kid, Christmas Eve and Christmas day were full of family and fun. And yes, gifts.

I had gone out to the store tonight to get some dog food for the dogs, and on the way home, I happened to glance at the clock in the car and it hit me that it was about the same time in the evening that Mom and Dad would have my sisters and I getting in the car to head over to Dad's parents house for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve night. When Grandpa was still alive, he would wait till all of the grandchildren were over, then he would sit in his rocking chair, light his pipe, and share a Christmas story with us. Only, they were not the usual Frosty the Snowman stories, they were stories where he would add in his own additions. And then he would hand out our gifts to unwrap and we would play for a while. Then Dad would say it was time for us to leave, and we would head across town to my Mom's parents for dinner and gift exchange. And Grandpa was on full steam with his comedy routine, anything to make the grand kids howling with laughter. After everyone ate, Grandma would give Grandpa the hat to draw the name of one of the grand kids to hand out the presents.

And when it was getting late, Dad would have us get our gifts, we would give Grandma her hugs and tell her Merry Christmas, and Grandma would always have a small container of her home made sugar cookies to send home with us. I loved her cookies, they would stay soft, like right out of the oven, for days. One of the things I remember most on those Christmas Eve's past, was it was always snowing. I remember watching the snow falling in the street lights, and to a kid, it just seemed so magical. And of course Mom would be telling us how we had to get to bed right away when we get home or Santa won't stop by. And we would always say we weren't tired enough to go to sleep yet, and Mom always told us, "oh yes you are"...and damn if she wasn't right. We would get home, she would put all of the gifts we received that night under the tree, have us get our pajamas on and send us to bed with a hug and a Merry Christmas. We would climb into bed still vowing we weren't that tired, and seemed as soon as our eyes closed, we were sleeping. How did Mom know?

Christmas morning, my sisters and I were always the first to wake up, Mom and Dad would still be sleeping. But OMG...there would be more presents under the tree! Santa did stop by!! And he ate his cookies and drank his milk that was left out. And of course, my sisters and I would peek through those presents to see how many we got. And then, when we couldn't wait anymore, we would burst into Mom and Dad's room to wake them up to get the party started. Mom would get up first and get us out of the room so Dad could get up. And when Dad came out, he would have his camera ready, and Mom would start handing out gifts.

Then Mom would get dinner started, and Mom's parents would show up, and would join us for Christmas dinner. We would show Grandma and Grandpa what we got, and then start begging to go play outside while there was daylight...

All of my grandparents have since passed on. Mom's Dad actually passed away 3 years ago. Christmas Eve now is just another day...but I usually use it as a day to reflect back to those days, and they always warm my soul. We've all grown up, moved on, my cousins have their families that they go to for Christmas, but, we always mange to say a Merry Christmas to each other. Even now.

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Dec 24 @ 8:15PM  
Sounds like a lot of good memories to be cherished.

Just got back home having a nice Christmas dinner with family. It was great seeing everyone again.

Dec 25 @ 12:42AM  
I thoroughly enjoyed pulling pranks on my little brother, Tommy, three years my junior. My mother, God rest her soul, couldn’t figure it out. My dad was too detached to connect the dots. I recall several with fondness related to Christmas.

One year we went to my grandparents for Christmas, leaving just after sundown Christmas Eve. I was ten and Tommy was seven. It was to be his last Christmas to believe in Santa Claus.

The interstate highway system was still a work in progress. Normally, the100 mile journey took two and a half hours. The holiday traffic made the trip longer. You would get up to almost 50 mph for about five minutes before encountering reduced speeds as you entered one of the many small towns along the way with one or two traffic lights and/or stop signs. It was this way the whole trip.

To make matters worse, my dad was listening to an all news station on the radio. It was a fifteen minute continuous loop tape that was only updated if there was any further news. There was no further news on this night. After almost two hours I found that I had memorized the entire news broadcast, including commercials, and was lip syncing it. One of the stories involved the crash of a small plane.

Then, in a flash, the light of creativity came on. I finally had something to amuse and entertain myself with on this boring trip. I looked over at Tommy, slumped over asleep in the backseat. I was grinning with glee in eager anticipation of what was about to unfold. I figured out what I was going to say, how to say it and when. I asked my dad how much longer it would be before we got to grandma’s and he said about a half hour. In other words, closer to 45 minutes.

As the long slow trip progressed, I plotted the strategy as I listened to the news. I knew that I had time, so the next time the airplane crash story came up, I could rehearse. Perfect! I was ready. For the next 15 minutes following my rehearsal, I savored the forthcoming humor, I giggled quietly in the backseat in eager anticipation.

On queue, I shook Tommy, awakening him from his slumber of sugar plums dancing in his head.
“Huh?”, he responded.
Mocking with fake sobbing, I responded, “There isn’t going to be any Christmas this year. Santa crashed.”
“ He did not!!”
“No, it is on the news.”
He reached full cognition in time to hear the announcer say, “The crash site was littered with packages that will never be delivered. There were no survivors. The cause of crash remains under investigation,”
He burst into tears and this got my dad’s attention
“What are you crying about now!?!”
(Still crying) “Santa is dead”
“What are you talking about?”
(Still crying) “Santa's dead,I heard it on the radio!”
“Well, if you don’t quit your crying, he’s going to be!”

As my brother relapsed into quiet sobs, I just did a masterful job of repressing my laughter. My mother suggested changing the station to Christmas music. The station was changed. I had the grin of the cat that gotten the canary for the rest of the trip as Tommy sobbed.

Dec 25 @ 1:02AM  
Tommy had gotten me in trouble recently several times and had been a jerk. Hell, he had been a jerk since birth. It was time for justice to be administered! A friend of mine had a birthday in late November. For his birthday he had gotten a model of the Starship Enterprise. It cost almost four bucks, a princely sum for a kid at the time. Tommy wanted it, but never could save a dime and got an allowance of two bucks a month. I asked my pal to give me the box it came in and he did.

A few days before Christmas, I took the box and filled it with sticks and a 49 cent model of a Japanese fighter plane. I utilized a very thin wrapping paper and placed it under the tree, “From Santa”. Kids know that with certain kinds of wrapping paper, you can press down and read what is inside. Parents know this too. My brother was so excited, but oblivious to the booby trapped gift. So was my mother, as she apparently examined the gift and determined that there was no need to replicate the gift as she intended to get it for him.

The day after Christmas, he opened the box in his bedroom and just sat there staring with his mouth agape with a blank stare. That afternoon, having gotten over his disappointment, Tommy was on the front patio, painting the parts of the Japanese fighter.

My mother had cleared out the holiday debris. Among the items was a four foot long tube that had been a holder of wrapping paper. A plan for a covert operation was devised. I would take the tube and a can of 7-Up, move around the side of the house through the ivy and scale the wall. I would then move between the bushes and the front of the house with stealth swiftness to where the corner of the house butted up against a very large, thick hibiscus bush. This would be about four feet from Tommy under the cover of the hibiscus bush. I would then guzzle the 7-Up.

I arrived totally undetected. He was concentrating on the model, painting it. Once in position, I gulped the 7-Up to provide the firepower required for the operation. At the optimal time, I slid the tube out from behind my cover to just behind his ear and struck! BURP!! He jumped out of skin, dropped the model airplane part and knocked over the paint.

I quickly withdrew the tube and retraced my tracks. I put the tube back in trash and dashed into the kitchen and composed myself. My brother had screamed, “Bruce!!!” My mom went out first with me behind.
I said in faked sincerity, “What is going on?”
My brother replied, “ You burped in my ear!”
“Well, did you see me burp?”
“No, but I know it was you!”
“Was there anyone else around who may have burped?”
“Well, how far was the burp from your ear?”
“About this far (hands demonstrating less than a foot)!
“Well, that is about the distance from your mouth to your ear, and if nobody else was around, you must be the burper!”

My mother turned and walked away perplexed but apathetic, while my brother stood staring with the opened mouth expression of a dead fish.

Dec 25 @ 1:12AM  
My grandmother decorated her tree in a different motif most years. One year she did it up for the second time in four or five years featuring candy canes instead of ornaments. She used the same candy canes as she did the previously and they way beyond stale. After we arrived she told me not to eat the ones off of the tree as they were only for decoration and not good to eat. She explained that there was a plate of candy canes that we could have on the dining room table. When no one was looking, I took five or six candy canes from the plate and switched them out with some of the stale ones from the tree.

I came into the kitchen eating a candy cane and Tommy noticed. He asked my grandmother if he could have one and was told that he could. He went and got one off the top of the plate that may have been as old as he was. He bit down on it and was I pleasantly surprised. Have you ever bit down on a Jolly Rancher and had it stick to your molars? Well, that is what happened to Tommy with his special candy cane. He started to cry but couldn’t open his mouth. After a few moments he was finally able to open his mouth. He didn’t have another candy cane that Christmas.

When I was around fourteen, I got up in the wee hours after my parents were asleep. I added some Certs, Clorets, and a travel size bottle of Listerine, that I had purchased, to Tommy’s stocking.

When we got up we were allowed to get the things out of our stocking but not open any presents. When he encountered the Clorets, he was perplexed. After pulling out some red and green Hershey kisses and a chocolate marshmallow Santa, he came across the Certs.

I quipped, “Why don’t you do us all a favor and have a few of those now? It will be a merrier Christmas for us all if you do.” He gave me a dirty look.

Following more red and green Hershey kisses, the perennial Pez dispenser and a chocolate marshmallow snowman, he got to the Listerine. He got upset and stomped off to the kitchen and threw it in the trash.
I acted offended, “Well, you don’t have to put up such a stink about it.”

Dec 27 @ 9:44PM  
Great memories...

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Favorite Christmas memories