Yield: Tis the season
Well, the Christmas Season is upon us whether we’re ready or not. I’m not completely ready for Old Saint Nick’s visit, but I’m close.
I’ll readily admit that I’m not a Christmas gift shopper, but simply a Christmas gift buyer. When I finally decide what to buy, I go to one store that sells the item and I buy it, period. No comparative price shopping by going from town to town or store to store. I figure I save money in the long run and, if not, I certainly save time.
I get nostalgic during the holiday season and recently I started thinking about Christmas gifts that I remember from my childhood. I recall that fresh oranges in my Christmas stocking were a real treat. I can’t recall eating oranges at any other time of the year, but my memory might be failing me.
I also remember a Santa Claus-brought Erector Set under the tree one Christmas morning. I was so excited. Folks my age may remember that an Erector Set was an exotic array of struts, nuts, bolts and belts for erecting buildings, bridges, vehicles, etc. Plus, the set wuz complete with a small electric motor and a set of gears to drive movement in the things built.
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But, alas, my mechanical ineptness rose its ugly head even at that early age. I built very few complicated structures or things. But I loved to use the electric motor and a set of gears to grind up pieces of chalk of all colors. My patient, sainted Mother seldom complained about cleaning up all the chalk dust from everything in my bedroom.
I admit, I should have taken the use of that Erector Set much more seriously than I did. If I had, as a teenager and adult I might have become a better builder than a “destructor,” a better “repairman” than a “tear-it-up man.”
Another long-ago childhood Christmas gift that turned out to be a bummer wuz a widely-advertised on radio “Complete Farm Set.” As I listened to the radio ad every morning on WIBW radio out of Topeka, Kan., I wuz enthralled by the descriptions of colorful, life-like farm animals, barns, farm machinery and livestock fences and pens. As I recall, my parents warned me that the farm set wouldn’t be as good as I envisioned. I think they knew something that cheap couldn’t possibly be good. But, I begged and pleaded enuf that the Farm Set appeared under the Christmas tree. Boy, was I disappointed when every item in the package wuz made out of “pop-out” cardboard figures. My folks did have the decency to not say “We told you so!” It wuz my first lesson in getting what you pay for.
Childhood Christmas presents that I recall turning out much better were my first Daisy Red Ryder BB gun and eventually my first 22-caliber rifle, also a sled with runners. We didn’t have sledding hills where we lived, but it wuz such fun to ride the sled being pulled behind the riding horses that the neighborhood kids and I had at the time. Sometimes Dad even pulled me behind the tractor or pickup.
It was always a Christmas holiday treat when my maternal grandmother came for a visit. She was a vivacious lady who loved to play games with me. She also played the rag-time piano by ear because she couldn’t read a note of music. But, she would jump at the chance to bang out Christmas carols on the old upright piano we owned. Sometimes we had neighbors visit for a Christmas party and we all gathered around the piano to sing Christmas carols raucously as Grandma played. She knew how to play every song anyone could think of.
The winters of my childhood were colder and snowier than those of today. I remember playing the game Fox and Geese in the snowy playground of the South Fairview one-room school I attended. And, of course, snowball fights were common as well with someone eventually getting hit hard enuf to cause tears and teacher admonitions.
Back then, Christmas trees were always eastern red cedar trees cut from a pasture or roadside ditch in our vicinity. I recall that I always kept an eagle eye out year-round for the perfect Christmas tree for Dad to cut. We had some store-bought tree ornaments, but we made garlands out of popcorn and ice-cycles out of narrow-cut strips of “tin foil.” The star atop the tree also wuz made out of a cardboard star covered with tin-foil. Early in my farm life, we didn’t have electricity. So when the REA brought electricity to our home, it wuz exciting to bedeck our Christmas tree with a strand of colorful lights.
I hope my recollections of my Christmases from yesteryear brings to you fond memories of your early childhood holidays. Times were certainly simpler then, but I never felt deprived of anything I really needed. We made do with what we had, we ate well and we enjoyed warm family and community good times. I couldn’t have asked for more.
So, on that note, let me wish each and every reader a satisfying, fun-filled Christmas season, plus peace, prosperity and love. Have a good ‘un.❖
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