Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Good morning, and Merry Christmas, guys.

I hope you've all woken up to a happy setting, with friends and family.

I've never been able to sleep in on Christmas. Part of it is I've never been able to sleep in, period. But I think the bigger part of it is that little kid in me, the one who still gets excited about everything on Christmas morning.

I wrote about it last year, I think. And I think it's an experience a lot of kids experience, where they wake up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Christmas morning, perhaps the only morning of the whole year where they are so eager to be awake. But they are made to wait for the folks to be awake.

At least, that's how it went down in my house. My sister and I would be awake at 6, or 6:30. And we'd have to wait to listen for sounds of my folks stirring downstairs. We'd have to get permission before wandering into the Christmas scene.

Once, I managed to sneak to the living room. I was six or seven. I NEEDED to see what Santa had brought. I remember seeing Castle Grayskull, the stronghold of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I spent the next thirty minutes in my room, about to bust with triumph and excitement. I forget the circumstances, but for whatever reason, I'd become fairly certain that the parents didn't like the big skull looking thing, and wouldn't get it for me, and I was becoming less and less certain that Santa would come through....

I wrote last year that I think a good measure of Christmas revenge would be to not let my parents up until I say they can do so.

I'd do it if my father couldn't still twist me into a pretzel.

I've been thinking about some of my favorite Christmas mornings.

A couple of years ago, when I was still working for the folks at the Goodwill, we'd gotten a whiskey barrel in. The Jack Daniels distillery is in Lynchburg, just a few miles southeast of Murfreesboro. It was a nice, old thing. Somebody had done some work on it, replaced a couple of the metal bands, pasted a few tax and shipping stickers on it . But it was cool. And I bought it and gave it to Mom for Christmas that year. It's about two of her favorite things, antiques...and barrels. I liked giving that.

My sister and I got Dad his first DVD player a three or four years ago. It wasn't much, but it was the first big ticket we'd ever gotten for one of the folks. He's enjoyed it.

I've had good Christmases, too. I remember the ones where I've given cool things more than what I've gotten, the Castle Grayskull story not withstanding. They've all been really cool, and I often marvel at just how fortunate I've been in my life.

If one stands out, it's the bicycle year. Did all kids have a bicycle year, where they got a bike for Christmas? Or is it a vanishing thing? We'd gone to New Jersey to spend Christmas with my Mom's folks. We got a few Santa presents there. It had been a matter of much discussion, whether Santa knew to come to Cape May County or not--he did, but he left a note saying one item was too big to fit down my grandparents' chimney. It was my bike, which we found upon our return to Tennessee. It didn't occur to me until much, much later that it made no sense that the bike couldn't fit down the chimney of my grandparents' house, but it could be gotten into our old house, which had no chimney at all....

And one year, I got a necktie with the X-Men on it. And much to everybody's chagrine, I wore it to church, as Christmas fell on a Sunday that year. I was an usher, at the time. I got called down by the choir director for wearing the bright red, gaudy looking thing.

It got compliments from all the ushers, however.

Jesus didn't have anything negative to say. It's his birthday. He's alright for a party.

And then there have been the times I've helped out, or helped sponsor somebody less fortunate. The really rough one was in tenth grade, when our Geometry class sponsored some kids. They came after school. Everybody in the class pitched in money, more even than had been expected. Our teacher had bought coats for the two kids. When the mother and the kids came in after school, and everything was sorted out, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I've done the soup kitchen thing a couple of times. My sister wanted me to do it this year, and I felt like a heel when I couldn't. I try to help out how I can. I could only give money this year. Time was in short supply.

Weird Associations I have with Christmas?

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Seriously. Every year for a while, we went over to my Aunt Charlotte's and Uncle Bill's house after opening presents, and there we'd eat Christmas Dinner. One Christmas, when I was eleven or twelve, my cousin Tim had gotten a whole mess of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VHS tapes, and he and I sat in the basement of their house and watched episode after episode of the Turtles.

Testy Dogs. The folks have a black lab named Sally, who's a wonderfully polite and laid back little dog. But she's extremely dedicated to a routine, and having a big tree with decorations and people sitting around it opening presents seems to be something of a wooden shoe in her works. She gets testy, especially with and around food. The past couple or three years, there have been a couple of incidents with Sally getting territorial, and a little snippy.

Sausage Balls. Perhaps not so weird, you think, because there are other families who eat sausage balls on Christmas morning. But in our case Sausage Balls is the name we gave to the weird fungus we all came down with after taking a dip in the hot tub my aunt and uncle got for Christmas one year. Which is weird, looking back, because it affected the girls even worse than the guys.

(Yeah, I had to throw one weird one in brain doesn't stop coming up with B-rate weird stuff just because it's Christmas)

Well. We watched A Christmas Story last night. I love that movie. It's a seasonal thing, but I've decided rate it in my top 10 favorites, regardless. I always laugh when Ralphie, attempting to hint at a BB gun, says that Flick saw Grizzly Bears next to the candy store. It's all good. The Major Award. Randy eating like a pig (that's the scene I remember from the first time I saw the movie, at my aunt Pat's house). The Bumpass's dogs. Fa ra ra ra ra.

Anyway. I'm going to watch the news, and wander up to the Christmas before too long.

I hope you've all found a happy place to spend yours. I hope Santa Claus brought you something nice, and at worst, he brought you a lump of coal, instead of a buttwhuppin'....

I hope you get what you wanted, and I hope you've given as well.

Merry Christmas, guys.


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