Christmas Change

(A little Christmas gift that all my friends, even the religious ones, might enjoy)

My memories of Christmas are a jumble of years, intermixed, and overlapping.

These memories of Christmas, the ones I’m am still able to recall, revolve around several distinct experiences.

Setting up our artificial tree.  It was the 1960’s, it was the latest technology and almost everybody had one.

The branches were color coded.  Each color designating a different length and position on the trunk.  It took hours.

MY favorite part was setting up the revolving colored lights, with the bulb the generated enough heat to warm the room.  If you left it on too long, the revolving colored wheel would warp.  The colored light changing the shiny aluminum ‘needles’ to different shades as the tree revolved and the lights turned.

I would lie underneath the tree and marvel at the colors and changing hues.  It was magic

I also recall a Christmas Eve, at least I think that was the day, when I could only have been 8 or 9 years old.  I was taking a bath. Suddenly, Santa Claus walked in, yup, right into the bathroom.  Well, it was a Rhode Island State Trooper, that worked with my father, artfully costumed, undoubtedly fueled by Budweiser, visiting as many of the trooper’s kids as time allowed.

It never occurred to me to ask why he came so early and wasn’t bearing presents.

I also fondly recall reading the serialized story in the Pawtucket Times.  It took place over the Twelve Days of Christmas.  You actually had to read the story and wait a whole day for the next chapter.  It was the 1960’s version of instant messaging.

I miss that. Everything now is instantaneous.

I only recall a few of the many presents I received on those childhood Christmases.

One was a train set, I don’t recall the Christmas but it was when we still lived in Pawtucket so I was 4 or 5.   It was probably one of those things a father gets for himself using the child as a convenient cover.  No matter, I played with that set for many years.

I also recall getting a very realistic looking toy rifle.  Modeled after the M-14.  Squeeze the trigger and it made a really loud sound like automatic weapons fire.  Didn’t need batteries.  I spent hours and hours killing many enemy soldiers, in the guise of all the other neighborhood kids also well-armed.

Not one of us grew up to massacre anyone.

The best present I ever received was an electric guitar.  I think I was 14 or so.  It was the chintziest guitar ever made.  The amplifier was built into the case.  My cousin, also a member of that newest rock band, received an identical one.

It was like I had received a custom built Les Paul.  I loved it.  Made a great deal of bad music, took our first steps towards rock stardom.

But this isn’t about presents, it is about memories.

What sent me down this road was decorating.

We were selecting certain old decorations, victims of wear and tear through the many Christmas periods of our lives, for disposal.

We’ve done this only a short time ago when we downsized from a house to a condo.  Thirty years of accumulated decorations require more storage than was available.

But those were practical decisions, these were like losing old friends to time.

It made me think of the whole spirit behind the season.  Not the religious aspect, many of you know my beliefs on that, but the spirit that can bring a smile, or tear, as you recall all those Christmas past.

The years of real trees.  The bigger the better.

Pictures with Santa.

School holiday pageants.

The years of looking up on Christmas Eve convinced those lights were moving, getting bigger, coming towards you.

The years of grandparents, and parents, and aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and friends.

The first time you saw Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Yukon Cornelius, the Island of Misfit Toys, the Abominable Snow Man, Herbie the Elf Dentist.

Charley Brown’s Christmas tree and that magnificent theme song.

The first Christmas with a significant other.

The first Christmas as a couple.

The first Christmas as a parent.

Christmas has magic.

For those of us raised in those simpler times, I believe it will always be a part of our lives no matter how the world changes.

My beliefs and philosophies have changed.

The more I question things the more I learn many hidden truths.

But there is something about Christmas that just has stayed with me.

Something that cannot be defined.  Can’t be attributed.  Can’t be explained.

Sometimes, holding onto memories can be dangerous.  Time can cast shadows on reality.

But in this case, I think holding onto a little Christmas spirit is a good thing.

I’ll leave it there.

Merry Christmas.

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