It’s almost that time!
Christmas from years ago.
My daughter gave me 3 rubber chickens for Christmas. She individually gift-wrapped each one putting it in a box inside a larger box put inside an even larger box. (I’ve put a wrapped gift inside only one larger box.) I had a hint she was going to do something, so I upped my game. When she unwrapped her “special” gift, she found a note. It said, “Your gift is hidden somewhere in the house.”
It’s almost that time!
The family and I always head to Pennsylvania where there’s a particular tree farm that we love. We roam the farm searching for the right tree. Actually all of them are the right tree, it’s just that we want to “live” the experience for a few minutes. We wait all year for this moment and don’t want it to end too quickly. After we find the right tree, it’s time for our greasy, high-cholesterol, saturated fat and tasty breakfast at a restaurant.
Many years ago when my son Jason was around 5 years old (he’s 30 now), I thought it would be fun to put a single potato under the Christmas tree next to his gifts. The first time I did it, he pretty much ignored it, but that didn’t deter me. The following year I did it again and the year after that. I’m not sure when, but maybe when he was 7 he finally took notice and expressed his displeasure that Santa would leave a single potato for him. My response was to hit him with logic.
“You love french fries, don’t you?” I’d ask.
“Yea…” he’d say.
“So Santa wants to give you something that you enjoy eating along with the toys!”
He didn’t like that explanation.
After another couple of years, I decided to upgrade the single potato to a bag. That’s when Jason would really express his annoyance.
“Not again!” he moan and groan.
He’d immediately grab the bag of potatoes and hand it to me.
“I don’t want them!”
When my daughter eventually joined our Christmas celebration (she’ll be 25 next month), she didn’t show the same annoyance that Jason did. She simply accepted the bag of potatoes as part of the Christmas day.
Then a funny thing happened. A few years ago with Jason and Ashley being older I thought it time to retire the bag of potatoes. I thought that small part of the day had run it’s course so I didn’t put the bag under the tree. When Christmas morning arrived and we all got up to open our gifts, the first thing my daughter asked me (I think she was 17 at the time) was “Dad, where are the potatoes?”
I explained why they weren’t there, that I thought it was time to move on.
“No Dad, it’s not Christmas without the bag of potatoes,” was her answer.
(For the record, Jason was in a neutral corner concerning the affair.)
Well, the following year the bag of potatoes returned along with the smile on Ashley’s face.
Most families have traditions with respect to their Christmas day. Whether it’s how they prepare the meal or watching something special on television or spending the day with certain members of their family. In my house, it the bag of potatoes.
It’s the small stuff that makes the day special.
It’s almost Christmas time, and I’m watching my toys.
(Just in case they move.)
For those unfamiliar with Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story”, it is the story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun. “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle,” exclaims Ralphie! The movie follows his adventures of trying to convince his parents, his teacher and the department store Santa Claus that this would be the perfect Christmas gift. (It also tells the story of his dad wining a “major prize” – the now infamous “leg lamp”.) When Christmas arrives, Ralphie scrambles to open his gifts but is disappointed when he doesn’t find the Red Ryder. As he sits on the couch trying not to show his sadness his father says, “What’s that by the desk?” The Red Ryder was hidden in the corner, out of view. When Ralphie see the box, he knows that his Christmas wish has come true.
(For those unaware, “A Christmas Story” was based on a collection of individual stories written by Jean Shepherd in the 1960’s. )
I also had my own “A Christmas Story” gift. It was 1963 and the toy was “Big Loo”. It was a robot that stood 3 feet tall. Just of few of it’s features were that it could talk, squirt water from its navel, was equipped with a compass, whistle, bell, a Morse code clicker with chart, and could bend over and pick up objects. For me, it was the greatest gift ever made. And when Christmas arrived, my big desire was also “hidden in the corner, out of view”. And when my Mom pointed out the box, I knew that my Christmas wish had come true.
Of all the toys I received when I was a child, that is the one I still have. Some gifts are too special to ever get rid of.
My Big Loo & me – 2013.
Where does the most famous man in the world go to hide from all his fans?
Don’t let the appearance fool you. It’s the Ritz-Carlton inside.
What nut would want to run over Santa?
Arguably the most important man on the planet.
If I get my hands on him, he’s toast!
It’s that time of year again!
Onward they March! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year,
to all and to all a good night.
Patiently waiting for Saint Nick.
It’s that time of year again. Cutting down the Christmas tree, buying presents, sending out Christmas cards, going to parties and on and on. And it’s that time of the year when I return to the toy stores and look around. My kids are grown and I don’t have any grandchildren – yet – and I’m not buying a toy for a friend’s child so what the hell am I doing in Toys R Us? Wishing that I was still a kid. I have some “attitude” holdouts from my childhood – I still don’t consider “clothes” a present. For years I bought myself something “photographic” – it served 2 purposes – it was a present under the tree and a tax deduction. I’ve stopped doing that. As much as I like getting a new photo item, it doesn’t belong under the tree. I’ve given myself a variety of computer items over the years – both software and hardware – and I’ve stopped doing that. I haven’t banned all “adult” items. I do consider CDs (I still buy them), DVDs, something for my stereo or TV as “allowable” items, but I still think about those toys. Recently I was in the toy store, starring at the road race sets from AFX. I received a catalog from Hobbytown,USA and they had photos of more race sets from AFX. Boy, would I like to see that under my tree. My friend sent me a weblink of a company marketing sci-fi movie and TV model kits – stuff he and I used to put together as kids. I still have some of my models – the Flying Sub from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea – but not much else. I loved my toy guns – my Johnny Seven OMA (for those who know), my James Bond and Man From Uncle weapons (I wanted to be Illya Kuryakin), secret agent attache cases and assorted other items. When I visited the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC several years ago, they had a section showing “toy items” and I was thrilled to see my 007 spy decoder toy in the glass display.
One of my best memories is my own personal “A Christmas Story” gift. It was 1964 and I didn’t desire the Red Ryder BB Gun that Ralphie wanted, my quest was a toy robot called “Big Loo”. It shot darts out of it’s chest, missiles from it’s feet, balls from it’s arm, it spoke, had a whistle, morse code clicker, could bend over and pick things up, eyes that lit up, had a water squirter that would shoot water from it’s navel and other stuff that I’m forgetting now. And just like Ralphie, that’s what I WANTED that Christmas. And on that special morning, I scrambled to the tree, opened up my gifts but didn’t see Big Loo anywhere. I was politely disappointed until my Mom pulled it out from behind the tree where it was hidden. My Ralphie moment.
And yes, that’s my Big Loo pictured above. I’ve thrown out almost all of my childhood toys, but I still have him. I want him in my coffin with me when I die.