Christmas Memories (memories 12/26/2013)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on January 1, 2014 0 Comments

My Christmas memories must include something from recent times and the following does just that. First is the picture of what Christmas day looks like in SoCal.


Then, another mandatory picture — my Christmas dinner cooking.


Yes, for those of you who doubt the reality of these pictures, this is how we spend Christmas in SoCal.

* * *

The swing set is one present I’ll never forget. I was stationed in Beaufort, SC, in the mid-seventies and the temperature that Christmas Eve was in the mid- to high-twenties. We had bought the thing a week before and kept it locked in the back of our camper along with the rest of the presents. After the kids were in bed, wife took the other presents into the (warm) house and wrapped them while I assembled the swing set in the (freezing) back yard. I didn’t have a floodlight so I assembled it in the light from one yellow, hundred-watt light bulb above the back door, about twenty feet away. Did I mention that it was cold? I kept having trouble getting my fingers to work and I needed many shots of antifreeze before I finished the thing somewhere around one in the morning. Feeling pleased with myself, I walked back into the house only to hear…

“Honey, Pam needs help.” Pam was married to Stan who was a member of one of the fighter squadrons out on deployment for three months. I followed Pam across the street and found a swing set — not just a swing set, but a twin of the one I just finished. Ha! Piece of cake, I just did one of them so I should be able to knock this out in an hour or so.

Yep, that worked out. Pam’s back porch light was burned out and she didn’t have a spare bulb — back across the street to get a bulb — didn’t work — oh, Stan had told her that there was something wrong with the socket. I’m in the cold, two a.m., with a flashlight, putting together her swing set. Many, many shots of antifreeze to finish it around four in the morning. I later found that my wife had shown Pam what we had bought and convinced her to buy one saying, “Don’t worry about it, Len will be happy to put it together for you.”

* * *

With a daughter there just had to be a Barbie house. All parents dread seeing “some assembly required” printed on a toy box, but I figured it was nothing. After all, I’ve put together all kinds of toys and can handle anything. I think it was Malibu Barbie’s beach house and those 73,000 pieces just didn’t want to fit together properly. There were somewhere in the neighborhood of three million screws, some for wood, some plastic, and some for who knows what. I had many of the stupid things left and I swear there wasn’t a single hole that didn’t have a screw in it. That stupid present took Santa from eleven until nearly three and required, if I remember correctly, two six packs of Bud before it looked something like the picture on the box. (You’re welcome, Tracy.)

* * *

One final thought because my wife hated having her picture taken and, because of that, I feel I have to post this every chance I get. A number of years ago there was a product that was a short-term fad: upside-down Christmas trees. Hmph, what’s the big deal? When my wife and I first got together, we lived in a relatively small apartment. The first Christmas, 1992, we had to figure out where to put our Christmas tree and we didn’t have a lot of floor space so — how about the ceiling? We mounted the tree upside down on the ceiling and, until her death, that was the norm for our family.

The picture, below, is scanned in so doesn’t have the best resolution, but you’ll see that we did, indeed, hang our tree from the ceiling. Also, the apartment didn’t have a fireplace, so our stockings were hung from the base of the tree. Finally, Debbi was so afraid of getting in the picture that she kept leaning to one side and I kept telling her that she was out of the picture. Hmm, do you think I’m going to go to Hell for lying to her?


That is a recap of some of my holiday memories.

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