As I reflect back on the many Christmases of my lifetime, I recall several that were memorable. From new bicycles, to model airplanes and cars, to the last as a complete family in Klamath, there is something to be said about such reminiscences.
Many Christmas gifts were truly a surprise as I had a hard time coming up with things I wanted. One time in Eureka, we lined up to talk to one of Santa’s helpers and as I sat on the bench next to the man in the red suit and white beard, I couldn’t answer his one question: “So, what would you like for Christmas?”
Sitting there – silent, I thought as hard and as fast as an eight-year-old could. Finally, “A mechanical, wind-up Santa,” I announced.
After leaving the stage, I heard him tell his assistant, “What a weird kid.”
I walked away convinced Santa was real, as he was right about that one.
Worse yet, I got into a fight with a classmate that same year after he told me Santa Claus wasn’t real. After all, I had jus’ seen a TV show about ‘Santa’s Reindeer Farm,’ and they can say something’s true when it’s not, can they?
When the Christmas Flood flowed through the town site of Klamath in 1964, we lost everything and I was so worried Santa wouldn’t be able to find us. However, my brother and I woke up Christmas morning to a handmade tee-pee, a store-bought bow and arrow set apiece, a feather head-dresses from the Trees of Mystery and stockings filled with nuts, and orange, an apple and a large candy cane.
It was 1979, when I returned for a week of leave from the Air Force, home to visit my family for the holiday. Unbeknownst to any of us, my parents included, that Christmas would be the last one the entire family would celebrate together as we had done in years past.
Divorce is like that.
One of the most memorable happened when I was jus’ moving into adulthood. Anticipating fun-stuff like roller skates, walkie-talkies or a b-b gun, I received nothing but clothing, including a ‘stupid’ suit, that holiday.
It left me so upset I went into the pasture and hid beneath an old log bridge to cry. Later, that yellow-and-blue plaid suit (the same as my school colors,) my parents bought me, and I had hated so much at the time, became one of the most treasured gifts in my memory.
I wore it until it no longer fit and even then — I refused to give it away as a hand-me down, which was customary in our family.
Jus’ the year before I got nothing but several old, dried-out corn cobs and three large lumps of coal under the tree. Yes, I deserved it – as I had done a number of bad things – including helping to flood my classroom and causing the same class to suffer through sex-ed talks.
But perhaps my favorite Christmases were the parties tossed at the VFW’s Larson Hall. Families from all over the area gathered there to have dinner, sing and dance, decorate the tree and pass out gifts.
In 1969, the VFW threw a large shindig, with kids as far as the Klamath Glen, Requa and Crescent Hill coming to the celebration. That year I received the 1955 book, “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood,” by Howard Pyle.
Looking back, I must have read that book a hundred times. Furthermore, I think it touched off my life-long love of old tomes and other items commonly refer to as antiques.
As I’ve grown older, my needs have since far outstripped my wants. New underwear, tee-shirts and socks, perhaps a calendar or maybe a magnifying glass will be waiting for me this holiday.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!