Christmas Memories

Did you ever sit back and ponder Christmas past? I mean way past, back when you were just a young’un. I know some of us are challenged to remember what we had for breakfast, much less what we did when we were ten. There are some memories, however, that never leave us. We might misrember them sometimes as we’ve reprinted them time and again onto the cranial hard drive.

My cousin Preston got one of those vibrating football games for Christmas. In our day, that was really high tech. To play the game you aligned the opposing teams for every down and then switched it on. The field vibrated with an awful racket. The players, wearing plastic bristles for cleats shook wildly and started moving – in every which direction. Sometimes they would hook arms and sit there vibrating in a circle or end up in a directionless clog of plastic football players right in the middle of the field. Occasionally one of them would break loose from the mob and head toward a goal line – hopefully the correct one. Except for my battery powered machine gun that made a noise when you squeezed the trigger that was about as hi-tech as it got for us. We did have the marvel of Etch-a-Sketch and Light Bright and every girl learned how to burn food with her easy bake oven. Nearly every year someone got a football for Christmas. Football was a lot more fun out in the back yard than on a vibrating field sitting on the bedroom floor– especially when the dogs got into the game. When we ran they did too tugging on our shirt sleeves or pants legs. They’d go after the ball too actually blocking a pass now and again and try vainly to pick up the ball with their mouth.

At school, we used to draw names for a gift exchange. Unbeknownst to me, one Christmas Big Rita drew my name. She gave me a toy pistol that was broken and put back together with a screw that was about an inch too long. She had a sneer on her face as she watched me open it. The sneer turned into a cackle and chocolate dribbled out the corner of her mouth. Who ever drew her name gave her a box of candy and in our time probably homemade fudge. No, I did not wish for her to choke as that would not be very Christmassy. Silently, however, I did hope it was laced with Ex-lax.

One year, I wanted a sled, but I guess I knew it was a little outside the price range of gifts. My Dad managed to come up with a sled for me anyway. It wasn’t new. Dad found a frame and runners from an old sled. He re-done the wooden body and steering handle and shined up the runners. On Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Our sled runs were epic, if not sometimes dangerous. We lived near the top of a mountain and the way up was a winding dirt road. We got a good bit of snow every year. Repeated snow and freezing along with some vehicle traffic turned that road into a very fast well packed sled run. We never gave much thought to zipping down the middle of the road. We also didn’t wear helmets.

One kid that lived just up the road came out with his brand spanking new sled. It was shiny and sleek. Of course, he wanted to race. I took the challenge. Initially he was in the lead, but I passed him. We usually ended our run at a turn in the road, but he wasn’t quitting and nether was I. My smaller more steerable sled made it through the turn and sleek speed racer went into the creek. It was a memorable Christmas event for me, a wet cold one for him.

My most memorable sledding day was not at Christmas. My friend Shortie, Preston and me decided we would sled down a hillside cow pasture on a piece of roofing tin. There was one problem with our sled run. At the bottom of it was a barbed wire fence so we would have to bail or face being shredded. I guess we didn’t realize how fast a sheet of tin loaded with three boys would travel down a snow-covered hillside. We all managed to make it, but Preston did leave the seat of his britches attached to our improvised sled.

The most memorable Christmas event for me? It was the first time I heard my young son yell out, “Mom, Dad! Come see what Santa brought!”

May you make countless good memories. Have a Blessed Christmas.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

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