Saturday, December 19, 2009

Early Christmases

At Christmastime children are greedy, at least my brother and I were. We were also snoops. Snooping didn't make our Christmas any happier. We always knew that around mid December we could start hunting around the house to find unwrapped gifts. We always wanted to know what we were getting for Christmas before we got it. One time we even went as far as partially unwrapping packages so we could peek inside. I don't know whether dad and mom ever caught on. At least they didn't let on that they did.

One year David, my brother, and I discovered a couple of model cars that were not yet wrapped. I don't know what dad and mom were thinking, but one of them was a Chrysler Imperial and the other was a Ford Falcon. These were early 60's models. Not cool for kids our age that were into Mustangs, GTOs, and Chevells. Nonetheless. My brother and I fought over who was going to get the Imperial.... neither one of us wanted it. So, I just about cried when I opened it, and it was mine. Somehow, i wished we had never snooped. Maybe, then, I would have liked it. I probably didn't like it because David didn't like it. Well, I did end up gluing it together and painting it. I hated it even more!

Somehow this experience didn't teach me a lesson. The next Christmas I was right back at the snooping. I just couldn't resist. But I had become a pro at acting surprised. 

One of the holiday foods we had was suet pudding. Now before you laugh you need to realize that I was a city kid and didn't know what suet was. It wasn't half bad with caramel sauce on it so long as you didn't know what you were eating. I think mom steamed it for a good long time, mixed it with sugar and raisins and then poured hot caramel over it. We all wolfed it down. After we were married I even asked Audrey to make it. That was a big mistake because that is when I found out what I was actually eating. Sorry, mom, but no more suet pudding for me.

Another holiday specialty was oyster stew. I remember dad and mom would invite friends over for an oyster stew party. I was relegated to my upstairs bedroom and told not to come down. I felt left out because my brother, David, was allowed to attend. I cried and made a terrible racket. The next year they let me attend long enough to get a bowl of oyster stew. Man, is that stuff awful. It's certainly not worth having a party for. Anyway, I took one bite and it went down.... then it came right back up. That was the end of the party for me. I wonder if that is when they discovered I was allergic to shellfish. 

Remember, I said we were greedy. Well it really showed one year. Since there were now five of us kids, there was quite a pile of gifts under the tree. It didn't take us long to open them and have paper strewn all over. As I remember it, the pile of gifts vanished pretty quickly and I had what I thought to be a pretty small pile. So I yelled out, "Is that all there is?" My dad, Santa Clause, just about exploded! "What do you mean? is that all there is?" He went on to explain that they had spent $100 on each of us. Now these were days when a candy bar was five or ten cents. Today a candy bar sells for a dollar. So they must have spent one thousand of today's dollars on each of us. Well, you get the picture, we were greedy little brats.... at least I was. 

How come the only gifts I can remember from my childhood Christmases was that model car, a game of Stadium Checkers, and a pair of corduroy mod pants with a wide belt? I loved those mod pants until I showed up in school with them after Christmas. That's when i discovered the rich kids got something else and these were already out of style. Of course, they let me know that too. They'd laugh at me showing the expensive braces on their teeth. If anybody needed braces, I did, but my dad was a sheet metal man at the railroad, when he wasn't laid off. I wonder how many of those rich kids still have their teeth. Mine might be crooked, but they are mine.

Anyway, Merry Christmas Everyone! 

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