It’s that time of season when I worry I might morph into one of Santa’s elves. I really enjoy the Christmas holidays. This is the time of year for optimism and the good will that radiates throughout Christmas. I bet some of the best times of your life happened during this joyous season.
If you haven’t caught the Christmas spirit quite yet, let me propose a sure fire way to do so. In the evening load your CD player with all the classic Christmas songs.
My favorites include Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Song,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” Burl Ives’ irresistible “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and anything from Dean Martin and Johnny Mathis.
This should be accompanied by a blazing fire in the fireplace and the lights of the Christmas tree as the only illumination. Now just drift back with me into Christmas seasons past.
I’m suddenly back in high school circa 1960. It’s the last day of school before Christmas break and all the students are nearly levitating in anticipation of the 3 o’clock bell. But before the school day ends, we all assemble in the gym for the annual Christmas pageant.
Our principal, the much beloved Mr. Jones in full Santa attire, emcees an old fashioned Christmas program that inspires us all. Is there anything more uplifting then young boys and girls dressed in tuxes and evening dresses beautifully singing traditional Christmas carols?
Another nostalgic grin producer was when my mom would take me and my brother to see Santa arrive on Franklin Street. The winters back then were always very cold and very snowy. I remember when I was about 6-years-old having to go see Santa in a pair of those horrible buckled boots (invented by a sadist) and one of those silly billed caps with ear-flaps. What a dweeb!
In those days, the sidewalks of Franklin were bustling with Christmas shoppers parading in and out of the many local shops that lined both sides of the street. Old Santa would ride into town on his giant sleigh. He’d be Ho-Ho-Hoing himself hoarse while tossing candy at all us kids. My brother and I would scurry like famished squirrels in pursuit of the Tootsie Rolls.
A hearty Merry Christmas was the standard greeting. There were manger scenes everywhere and not a peep about Happy Holidays or Season Greetings. If someone uttered, “Let’s decorate the Holiday Tree” they would have been drenched in eggnog.
What a place, what a time.
Do you recall the joy of childhood Christmas morning? I remember when I was 8 my brother and I descended on our gifts like T-Rexes. My eyes spun like a demented chameleon and I almost exploded with delight as I strapped on my two-gun “Hop-along Cassidy” holster while my brother filled every square inch of our living floor with toy army men. I’ll always cherish watching my own sons on bygone Christmas mornings squealing with glee as they opened their gifts.
I even taped a few and play them back as I melt in tender memories wondering where the time flew.
When I became a teen, the basketball Holiday Tournament was a big deal. In those days the Red Devils, led by Doug Adams, had some fantastic teams. Attending those tourney games enriched my holiday fun.
Teen Christmas parties were also popping up everywhere. I used to bring my own mistletoe. I would hold it over a pretty girl’s head then ambush her with a kiss. At least until I got my face slapped so hard that my ear still rings to this day.
One more thought: This column wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a few of the many great Christmas movies. I still choke up at the ending of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the hilarious “A Christmas Story” seems right out of my past and I still get a kick out of old Ebenezer Scrooge.
Well, I’ve got to run. I spy my wife under the mistletoe and, at my age, every opportunity must be taken. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Blaine Heric can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org