Friday, December 22, 2006


Do you remember? Do you remember when you believed it was true? Do you remember the anticipation of Christmas morning? What happened to that innocence?

I only remember three things I ever got for Christmas; a Rifleman cap gun (mostly because we have pictures - see attached of my brother and me), a big Tonka tractor and trailer rig, and an electric train. I remember dad fussing with Sears over the train after Christmas because it did not work. I actually got a better train (how I would love to have that today) when they finally settled and satisfied dad's issues. All the rest is a blur of smaller colorful items mingled with candy and clothes. However, I do remember anticipating the big event and the excitement of seeing Santa for the first time during the Holidays. It was all real then, real to life, and it meant so much.

My mom and dad always went "home" for the holidays - back to their roots. Home was where they left the magic and they were drawn to its origin and continued to try and regain its mystique each year. I rarely had a Christmas at my home, but rather at their home. Nonetheless, Christmas past is remembered as an event.

I remember dark nights traveling at 60 miles per hour down the road to grandmothers. Sometimes, there was snow coming down and it came in like antiaircraft fire across the hood of the old '55 Pontiac. The yellow-lit Indian's head powered its way forward through everything that could be thrown at it. I was the fearless pilot that always made it unscathed. Other times I would sit quietly in the back seat of the car, look wishfully up in the sky, and watch the moon sneak in and out from behind clouds. I distinctly remember thinking that I might actually see old Santa's sleigh and reindeer cross in front of the moon.

I remember seeing E.T. twenty-four years ago (yes, it has been that long) and seeing the bicycle caravan fly across the full moon. It reminded me of those cold, sometimes snowy (yes, it used to get cold and snow in December in Tennessee) winter nights looking hopefully up at the moon and thinking a similar silhouette would reveal Santa to me.

However, there is one memory of Christmas that will forever remain vivid in my mind and stand to illustrate the faith I had in the season.

I cannot honestly remember the circumstances, but for some reason I was up at the hour Santa chose to visit my house, and mom was trying desperately to provide all the ammunition I needed for a Christmas imagination experience. I think they had promised me that we would have Christmas at home (my home) before going "home", and were trying to hurry things up a bit by letting Santa deliver the packages early so everyone could get some sleep and leave early the next morning. So the games began about bedtime.

"What was that noise? Listen!" mom whispered. Dad had conveniently left the house to visit a neighbor. I was too young to question the late hour visit.

My eyes were wide and my ears were perked up like the best of watchdogs.

"Hear that?" mom whispered excitedly.

I will have to admit I did hear something! And to this day, whether through the power of suggestion, or something dad was doing outside, I remember hearing what I described later to my grandparents as sounding like the sliding of the rungs of a sleigh, and the prancing of reindeer feet in the yard (we lived in a basement apartment, so there was no rooftop sounds possible).

I wanted to run to the window and see, but mom grabbed my hand and whispered, "We gotta hide! If he sees you up, he won’t come in!"

Oh, the terror of being discovered awake filled my chest. Mom pulled me behind the stove. Yes, I remember the stove...could have been something else, but that is how I remember it! How she moved the kitchen stove out away from the wall I do not know. Anyway, we were hiding and she was shushing me to be quiet.

Suddenly, loud footsteps came in through the door and passed by the stove. I could hear rustling in the living room and imagined Santa unloading his bag and putting packages under the tree. Oh, I wanted to run and see him and see what he had left, but mom reminded me in a whisper that he should not see me awake.

I did not want to spoil Christmas, so I hunkered there with my mom and imagined what he looked like and the surprises yet to come. It was terrifying and exciting all rolled together.

Finally the footsteps passed by the stove again and went out the door. I heard noises and imagined the sleigh lifting off and passing on to the next house. Finally - finally, I could sprint off to the tree. It was wonderful. I do not remember what was there that year...could have been the red tractor with the blue trailer, I do not know, but the memory of my encounter with Santa will always be fresh in my mind.

I wish the innocence was still with me. I wish it could be true. I wish the world was still such a safe and wonderful place. However, I know too much now and it can never be like that again.

I wish you all a wonderful Holiday season and hope that some how, some way, you are awakened during the wee hours of Christmas morning and think you heard something on your roof or outside.

Merry Christmas to my family and friends! I love you all very much. May peace once again surround us and protect us.

"Praise ye the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen
Sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him."


Jose said...

And a Merry Christmas to you and yours as well. The beauty of it all is that the Spirit of Christmas never dies. In a previous post I said we didn't have a Santa Claus but instead we waited for the Three Wise Men, well let me tell you I believe in Santa more today than I ever did in the past because just as you describe in your post, I see Santa today through my grandkids and in a way the innocence you talk about is never lost it just recycles. You have been a good friend and, it's an honor to know you through your blog, here's to 2007 and the many more stories to come.

Carol said...

Oh I love that story! Your parents were so wonderful to make that memory for you! I remember those early morning of lying awake in anticipation of what I would find under the Christmas tree -- the excitement too much to let me sleep. I hope children now have similar Christmases. God bless.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

That was just wonderful. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mushy.

BTW You've been tagged.

jan said...

Wonderful story. The magic of Christmas will always be part of us no matter how old and jaded we get. Have a great Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I showed this post to my husband, but covered up your writing. I pointed to the pic of you guys with the guns and immediately, he said, "Hey! That's what my Rifleman rifle looked like!" LOL;) He's 55 years old and he still remembers that damn Rifleman rifle as his favorite gift as a child;)

Mushy said...

...then he's a good man! Hang on to him.

Anonymous said...

The good ol' days, when you could give a rifle, toy or otherwise, and be congratulated for it, instead of condemned! And, where would us "boy/men" have been today without that Tonka truck line?

Merry Christmas to you, too! And if you must travel, then do so with care...

Anonymous said...

I attempted to leave a comment while at work, but the boss walked up behind me and I got nervous... lol...

Thank you for sharing your memories with us. I don't have many memories to live by, but I do remember having the task of cleaning all the windows to get them ready for lights. I also remember dad putting Santa and his reindeer on the roof and setting out the lighted manger on the front porch.

I always enjoy the the memories you share with us.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Fathairybastard said...

Awesome post. I recognized the Rifleman Trapper model immediately. Used to love that show. You're right about the few Christmases that jump out in your head, and the presents that you remember. One of mine was a GI Joe (full size, astronaught/scuba diver model) and a cool toy where you blew up a balloon and attached it to this gizmo with a propeller and it became a lunar lander, both in England in about 67. The other was in Kansas City in about 71 or 72, when I got a huge sled, big enough for me to be comfortable on, which I used to slide down the hill up the street. I also got a new quiver of hunting arrows from dad, which blew me away because I didn't think he cared very much about my archery interests. I barely remember the early days when I really believed. Those were the days. Again, great post, as usual. Have a great Christmas and new Years and here's hoping that 2007 is less stupid than this one has been. Here's hoping anyway.

Anonymous said...

Mushy That was so wonderful of you to share that with us, It brought back Memories.
Every year we spend Christmas eve with my brother and his family. Chiphead and I couldn't have children. So we spend it with them. It is so wonderful to see the Children wake up at 3 in the morning. Since we just got to bed from playing Santa.
Chiphead and my brother go on the roof and make sleigh tracks and hoof prints on the roof for the children.
They get up and it is the 1st thing they do is go outside and look for the tracks.
I just love seeing their faces.
Opening gifts and the awe on their little faces when they see what Santa brought.
God Bless you and your loved ones.
Merry CHRISTmas.

Anonymous said...

You know all this time I thought the Rifleman "rifle" that he talked about was a BB gun. Now I'm razzing him cuz he doesn't sound near as tough carrying a cap gun! LOL!!

Merry Christmas to you & yours!

Mushy said...

Gee thanks everyone for the great responses to my post.

Kuanyin said...

Great memories, great writing! Happy Holidays dear one! Brightest Blessings, Kuanyin

CL said...

Thank you for helping me to remember Christmas' past and the ones I want for my kids.

Fathairybastard said...

Man, I was just looking at that picture again. The slicked up hair, the turned up levis, and the rifleman cap gun, a time capsule snapshot of the 1950s. Love it.

Mushy said...

Was I cool or what? I could have been dancing with Annette Funicello on American Bandstand!

I did, sometime around this period, dance on a Nashville TV show based on Bandstand.

I'll have to write about it sometime.

Again...thanks all for the nice comments.

EC said...

That was such a great story of your life! You know I'm a huge sucker for past life tales ;)

I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas

Debbie said...

I do remember when Santa was still real. What fun for me, and also what fun for my parents. They didn't enjoy Christmas nearly as much after I discovered the truth. Same with our daughter. Now our grandson also knows there is no Santa, so he just makes his list that much longer. His thinking is that since we just have to buy for HIM, he should get lots more. *sigh*

It's sad how kids just want stuff, they don't even think about the price 'someone' has to pay for that stuff.

Seems no matter what you get them, they want more.

But it really is more fun to give than receive when there are kids around.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember being a little kid, listening for the sounds of reindeer hoofprints on the roof. Sneaking a peek outside for a glimpse of Saint Nick. It was a magical feeling. Too bad we have to realize that we are the Saint Nicks.