Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Editors Note: We received this very nice essay from one of our favorite correspondents - Dr Bob Gallagher. Many of us will have our memories jogged a bit by his recollections of his Christmas's past. I think most of us will read this and be able to share a smile -- or even a melancholy moment or two -- reflecting on the magic of being a child in holiday seasons past.

Christmas in Pittsburgh

Christmas has past and today I sat around thinking of the images of the Christmases of my youth. Yes, it was a LONG time ago, but the mind is still sharp enough to bring back memories.

A week or so before Christmas our family would drive the 25 miles to the “big city” (Pittsburgh) to take in the Christmas sights. All the department stores would convert their outside display windows into scenes of the season, with electric trains in action, snowy villages and Santa’s workshop showing elves hard at work making Christmas toys.

The sidewalks were crowded with shoppers on their way to find that perfect gift. On every corner would be a young boy with his stack of newspapers for sale. The hustle and bustle of the big city always put us in the Christmas mood.

When I was about eleven or twelve and in the Boy Scouts, we sold Christmas trees as a money making project. It had snowed, heavily, and we were able to just stick the trees into the snow to make our own forest. Trees 6’ and under went for 50 cents and those taller ones were 75 cents. Of course, the man who had the tree sales around the corner, wasn’t happy since he charged $1 per tree.

At our house, we bought our tree and then left it on the back porch for Santa to put up and decorate. On Christmas morning it was such a sight to come down stairs and see the tree and Santa’s gifts to us on display under the tree. I remember that one year he put balloons in the tree as additional decorations.

One of the gifts I always remember was a dart game. You loaded three or four darts into a box that had a reverse periscope attached to it and a lever to release the darts. You stood over the dart board, which was a map of Tokyo, and let those bombs go ! By now, you can figure how old I am.

Another tradition at our house was that after opening all the gifts, my mom and dad would take a very long nap. It wasn’t until later, when I became part of the midnight visit from Santa, for my sister, that I discovered the reason for this traditional “family sleep time”. It seems that after doing all the “Santa” thing at our house, my parents went next door to help with our neighbor’s tree. Their Christmas tradition consisted of starting to drink after dinner and by the time their kids were in bed, the neighbors were pretty much wasted. If it wasn’t for my parents, there wouldn’t have been much of a Christmas next door. Hence the Christmas nap time at our house.

Well, those are some of the Christmas memories I always think about from my childhood. I hope you can sit back and let the memories of your youth pass through your mind and bring a smile to your face.

So, Merry Christmas, even though it’s late.

Bob Gallagher

1 comment:

  1. I remember that bombing game. I wanted one so bad, but didn't get it. Years later I was still building card houses and bombing them with pennies. I guess that shows how bad I wanted that toy.