Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ghosts of Christmas Past

"Ghosts" is probably not the right word. I don't believe in ghosts. At least not the kind that rattle chains and have white hair. These ghosts are more like memories - they linger, but don't haunt me. Although some of them may be a little scary. Like the Christmas I had an ear infection so bad that I eventually ended up in the hospital. I was only three years old, maybe four, and remember being in terrible pain laying on the couch with my head on my grandmother's lap while she was reading to me. A Bing Crosby Christmas record was playing in the background. I knew I was sick. I just didn't know how bad it was at the time.
Another vague childhood memory is of living in a big two-story house on the edge of a very small town. The two-story description is relevent because Santa gave me a toy guitar that year. I took it to my upstairs bedroom and tossed it out of the window. My motives were unclear at the time and still remain a mystery to this day.  It wasn't until I was in junior high or maybe a freshman in high school that I was given another guitar. I practiced on that one for hours and hours and finally was able to play Catch the Wind and Michael Row the Boat Ashore with some proficiency. But that was the problem - I never learned to read music, just how to memorize chords and play songs. So it wasn't too long before I lost interest. At least we were only living in a one story house then.
As I look back, I can't recall a "bad" Christmas. We didn't have a lot when I was growing up but we always had a nice Christmas. Sometimes I wonder how my folks pulled it off, but they always did.

There was a close call when one year in mid December I had a heart attack, but was able to recover quick enough to be home in time for Christmas. Other than that, I am glad to say we've been fortunate over the years to have avoided any major holiday trauma. It's funny how I remember specific gifts I have received over the years. Those guitars, a slot car race track, G.I. Joe, a chemistry there anybody who did not get a chemistry set at one time or another? Then there was that awful game called "Operation." I remember getting so mad and throwing the tweezers down when I touched the side causing that buzzer to go off. Man, that was irritating! Pigmania was always fun, though. Anybody remember that game? You would toss two small rubber pigs like dice and get points depending on the position in which they landed. As I recall, a 'leaning jowler' was a big point getter.

Christmas this year will be quiet. We don't have a large family, and there will be no little kids around, so after a small gathering of relatives we will come home and enjoy a peaceful Christmas Eve by the fire. Maybe we'll watch "A Christmas Carol" - the one with George C. Scott. Now that's a good ghost story.

Roger O'Dea     12/24/2016

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