As we fast approach the Christmas or Holiday or whatever you want to call it season, my mind often wanders down to that dusty place called memory lane. It’s there that I recall celebrations of days gone by with family and friends and acquaintances whom at the time I thought were friends who today I wouldn’t recognize if they sat down next to me. I wonder where those people are today and if they hold the same memories that I do?
As with any type of celebration, be it a holiday, a wedding a birth or a graduation, I’m sure we’ve all encountered ones that were good, ones that were not so good and ones that for whatever reason, were just plain bad. Maybe the food sucked, maybe the music wasn’t to your liking, maybe you didn’t like the people or person you were with or maybe your drunk relative conducted themselves in such a way as to put a stain on the whole affair. I hope that when you think about all of them, you focus on the good ones.
I’m gonna focus on Christmas and what I remember most about them from back when I was a whole lot younger. Most it has to do with the presents that I received and the memories that come back to me when I think about them.
Naturally, there was the first bicycle. It was gold in color and to top it off it was a three speed!. Yep, when all my friends were tooling around on one gear, I had three. It was cool and so was I until the day I rode it up a curb and bent the wheel that never got fixed and the bike was left to gather dust in the basement. Oh, but the time in between was unforgettable. It was my horse, it was my chariot, it was my car and it was my plane.
Then there was roller skates. No, not roller blades but roller skates. Today, they’d be a relic but back then they were the kind that you needed a key to turn and tighten the little clasps on the front and the back of it that held it in place on your feet. You'd wear the key around your neck on an old shoelace and it dangled like an amulet and was always at hand when the skates had to be adjusted. They were the kind that adjusted its size to actually fit your foot and they were bound with a strap of leather to hold them on. The kind that would randomly fall off one of your feet when you hit to many bumps or went to fast and dangle and you’ve have to stop and put it back on. They were the kind that you strapped to your foot so tight that the leather band left its imprint around your ankle and they were kind that when the leather band finally gave way and broke, left you in tears.
After that, there was the baseball glove Stiff as a board when you first got it and had to be “broken in”. You’d massage it with oil and put a ball in the “pocket” and tie it real tight with rubber bands or string so that it would fit your hand and be more flexible and make it easier to catch those screaming line drives and pop ups with. It was the kind of glove that would dig balls out of the dirt and the kind where you’d relish the sting when you caught the ball in the palm of the glove instead of the web. It was the kind of glove you were reluctant to lend to any of your friends for fear that they might somehow corrupt it and it was the kind of glove that smelled like baseball when you put it next to your pillow and had dreams of playing in the big leagues someday. It was the kind of glove that lasted for years and when it finally came time to part with it, it was one of the hardest things you ever had to do.
Next, there was a football. The kind you’d spend hours playing catch with your friends with. The kind you’d tuck under your arms and dodge would be tacklers and fantasize about scoring that last second touchdown that lifted your favorite team to victory. The kind that survived countless games of two hand touch on the concrete streets of Brooklyn and seemed indestructible even when the ends began to fray and had to be held together with electrical tape and the laces snapped and had to be replaced by the old strings of an even older sneaker. The kind that would sit itself in the closet patiently waiting during the hot months of summer only to resurrect itself again when the fall and the winter hit.
After that there was the smell of fresh cardboard when the board games were cracked open and people sat around the table or on the floor and played and talked and laughed. There was the sawdust quality when you ran your hands around the box of that thousand piece jigsaw puzzle and thought to yourself that it wouldn’t be so hard to put together. There was the aroma of Elmer’s glue with its white bottle and orange cap and the snipping of pieces of plastic in order to put together the model airplane or car ort train or whatever it was being assembled.
These days, I watch with what I call a distracted interest when I hear stories about people that are standing line for hours at a time just waiting to get their hands on the latest hot gadget. This year, I think it’s something called the Xbox 360 and I wonder if years from now people will be around writing about the time they scored a bazillion points or defeated some image of an enemy that flashed in front of them on a tube after being freed from its shrink wrapped prison.
I hope I’m wrong but I sorta doubt it.
Here’s wishing you all happy memories from me and mine to you and yours.
Bob & Anna