The River's Badge

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas I Remember

I've never been much of a Christmas person. I don't know why that is, exactly. Probably a memory that I've buried. A dysfunctional Christmas really isn't better than no Christmas at all.

I don't dwell on that stuff. Obviously I don't, since I don't remember any of it. All I know is, I never liked Christmas very much.

When I'm listening to Christmas music, which I try to do each year, at least a couple of times, I am taken back to one particular Christmas that I remember. And I don't know why I remember this particular one, but I do, distinctly.

1972. I was seventeen. We'd had the usual Christmas Eve. Did the family thing; then I retreated to my room, with a slamming door (I was seventeen, after all). I'd gotten a couple of record albums from my best friend, Alice, that I was anxious to play.

The fun part about Christmas, for me, back then, was the annual shopping trips that Alice and I embarked upon. We'd take the bus to downtown, and head straight for Cowan Drug. They had a basement gift area that was really cheesy, but the prices were right. We always found just the right gifts for the various members of our families. She had her brother Duane and her sister Betty and her little sister Nancy, to buy for. And of course, her parents, Gus and Gertie. I had my parents, and my brother and his wife, and my sister and her husband, and my little brother and sister, Jay and Lissa. My brother-in-law, Ronnie, always got a kick out of the goofy gift I'd pick out for him. It would be some corny thing, like a fuzzy creature with eyes, glued to a slab of wood, with some dumb saying slapped on the wood; probably something about hunting or something about Texas (he was originally from Fort Worth). You get my drift. The gifts were the best that one could buy, if one only had about $30.00 to spend.......total.

Of course, I'd go by myself to buy Alice's gifts. And her gifts always.....always.... consisted of LP's purchased in the basement of JC Penney's. Funny thing back then, but the choices in music seemed so VAST. Not like now, where you can't even find anything you'd want to buy. I had to think about my choices......and stand there, holding three or four record albums, trying to decide which two I was going to get. (I could only afford two, after all.)

I have no recollection of what I bought for her, but I remember the ones she bought for me. In 1972, it was Johnny Paycheck, "Someone To Give My Love To", and an LP by the Statler Brothers, whose title completely escapes me now, but side one was a weird, really bad band called Lester Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys, doing some Saturday morning radio show; and Side two was the actual Statler Brothers, singing songs like, "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again." I sat and laughed and laughed at side one. And then side two totally enchanted me.

I know I got on the phone to Alice shortly thereafter, and raved about the gifts. And I marveled at how she knew how good they would be, since, like me, she didn't get to preview the albums before she bought them. I wonder now if the ones I bought for her were as good.

And I thought, then, what a great Christmas. It wasn't really the gifts. It was the friendship.

And I guess that's what Christmas is all about. Making that connection with someone. You can't capture lightening in a bottle. But feel lucky if it happened to you at least once in your life.

Christmas now is just a whole big long list of "have to's". And there's never enough time to accomplish all the "have to's", so one is left feeling inadequate and unfulfilled. (or is that just me?)

So, it's nice to think back to a time when Christmas was special.

Merry Christmas to you. I hope you have one of those "special" Christmasses. If not this year, then maybe one from 1972.

As they always say, Christmas is in your heart.

No comments: