Classmates wrote in my high school yearbook I was most likely to become a social worker. I don’t why they thought that.
I had no idea what I was going to become. I had picked rocks out of the family garden, gathered hay at the farm up the road, and built houses with my uncle.
And I enlisted in the U.S. Navy soon after graduation, as a so-called “Kiddie Cruiser.” That’s what they called the program in which if you enlisted while you were 17, your first enlistment period ended when you turned 21, with credit for the full four years active service then required of all reasonably healthy young men. I stayed 20 years.
The thing I remember most about Christmas was Dad waking us kids up with his shooting at Santa:
“Wait! Stop! DON’T GO! My kids want to meet you.”
The previous night’s snow had coated the forest with foot-deep powder, silencing the footsteps of the three hunters – my brother and I and our father, in the annual quest for a Christmas tree. It was like being in a sound-proofed studio – that weird, echoless sensation of walking alone in an enchanted world.
“Look at this one, Daddy,” my brother exclaimed.
“Shake the snow off it and let’s see,” the elder replied.
Candy Cane Peeps! What’s that about?
We found them in the grocery store this week, little white marshmallow chicks, with red flecks of red peppermint. Beside the first box was a slightly more expensive set. I wondered why the extra cost until I saw the bottom of the chicks had been dipped in chocolate.
I have gone through life knowing Peeps are yellow and come for Easter, to be stashed on top of the refrigerator, at the back where they are not easily reached, until they are discovered sometime in late summer, dried to a perfect chewiness. It will not be long, I suppose, until they bear a label proclaiming new Peeps to be “Perfectly Chewy.”
But they did tickle my memories of other Christmas treats.
Published in the Gettysburg Times, 9/6/2013)
In a few days, it will be time for the Jolly Fat Guy to drop in. Our tree is sparkling with ornaments and lights, and there is plenty of space beneath for whatever booty the red-clad elf chooses to leave. Later Christmas Day, a couple of the grandkids likely will stop by to see what has been left for them.
One of my happiest memories of youth was waking to the sound of Dad, outside our window in the darkness of Christmas morning, shouting, “Hey, come back here! The kids want to see you.”
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 12/13/2013)
Ever since the calendar flipped into December, there has been a singular goal on my spouse’s mind.
Selecting our Christmas conifer from offerings of the “40 and 8” – a club associated with the American Legion – was a tradition born many years ago, when my not-yet spouse, a Registered Nurse, discovered the club used its profits to fund scholarships for student nurses.
Alas, the “40 and 8” begins selling on the first weekend in December. The first day of the month fell on Sunday, so that weekend didn’t count. The following Saturday morning came the quiet query: “Papa John (a title bestowed by a granddaughter some years ago), can I have a Christmas tree?”
Ah, ‘tis the season.
A friend was informed by her husband that Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to put up the tree.
Another chimed in that her tree is up already.