Current mood:contemplativeBack about a million years ago, when I was in grade school (I still live about 1/4 of a mile from the school) Randy and I were best friends. He, his sister Karen and his mother, lived in seen better days apartments, right across from the school. On some weekends, he, or I would stay the weekend, over at each other's homes.
Randy's mother was a divorced, single mom, barely making ends meet. The kids were the sterotypical kids whose clothes were a little worn on the edges, but always clean and pressed. My dad had gottten a job in Civil Service working on the railroad, so we were a bit more well of than most. We were not rich, but we got what we needed. Not always what we wanted.
My father and one of his friends helped Randy's mother get a Civil Service job (as a secretary, if I remember right) and it represented a pretty decent jump in income for her. They were able to get out of the apartments, and the roaches and bugs, and moved into a mobile home (again Dad and one of his friends helped secure that for them) uptown. Things were on the upswing for them.
Randy's mother died in a fire in that trailer several months after they moved in. I remember going to the park, and seeing the still smoldering fire, and the 2 kids destroyed by the loss.
Dad contacted their father, who was in the service in Germany and gave him the news. The father said that he would get the paperwork started to get the kids back to him. However, it would take months and he was scheduled to return to the stated in about 8 months, and by the time the kids got uprooted from school, and sent over there, it would ruin their school year.
My parents decided to move them in with us, till the end of the school year. That way, they could finish school, and their dad would be back stateside, to reunite with them.
As a kid, my brother and I, would be given a copy of the Sear's Wishbook, and told to circle and initial items that we might want for Christmas. For about 6 weeks, that catalog got read on a daily basis. It became dog-eared, and worn. Pages folded down. Things circled, or X'd out, if we changed our minds.
My sister came to live with us, when I was about 9. We boys had to give up a bedroom, to accomodate her, and things in the house got crowded.
So, when Randy and Karen moved in, the house became elbow to elbow crowded. 5 people sharing 3 bedrooms and a bath.
First off, my parents took them to the store and bought them school clothes, and wear around and play in stuff. The Wishbook, took a particular beating that year, as 5 kids worked it over.
As it would each and every year, it would mysterously disappear, about a month before Christmas.
I'll never forget Christmas Day, that year. The floor in the living roon of our little house, was literally covered with stuff. Mom and Dad must have maxed out every credit card they could come up with, to give those kids,and us, the best Christmas that they could manage. Every imaginable toy and trifle, was there. They sat on the couch, sipping their coffee, watching the eyes of those two kids light up, over and over again.
Honestly, that Christmas was better than any that their mother could have managed. Their entire lived had to be replaced, and my parents did the best that they could. That summer, Randy and Karen's dad whowed up in his soldier's uniform, and the kids left with him. We eventually lost contact with each other, and it has been more years than I could count since I have apoke with them. I sometimes wonder if they still remember that Christmas in our house, and if they understand what it meant to my parents. I think about them from time to time. A simplier life. A worn out Sears Wishbook. Getting what you needed. Not always what you wanted.
Christmas is many things to many people. Things that we did as kids, have fell out of fashion, such as Christmas caroling, or sending cards. The little things stick with me. Even as old as I am, I still try to make time, to watch the specials that I watched as a kid. Charlie Brown. The Grinch. Rudolph. Slipping my glasses off of my nose and looking at the blur of color that the lights transform themselves into. Finding the station in town, that has transformed itself into the Christmas Music station, for a month. Driving around and looking at the lights and displays. Making popcorn cans of Chex Mix, to give out to friends and family. Knowing that magically a day after Thanksgiving, that all of the stores that we went to all thru the year, would overnight transform themselves into a kid's wonderland.
Christ has long since been taken from Christmas. He was packing to leave when I was still in school. And, now Christmas, itself, is being taken away. The next time you go walking in the mall, shopping this holiday, make an effort to read the signage in the Department stores. Happy Holidays! Season's Greetings! Pre-Post Holiday Sale! I dare say you will not find the word Christmas as part of the major advertizing campaigns of any of the major store chains.
They want our money. Just not Christmas, and certainly not Christ. Spend your money. Just don't tell us why. And never mention either of those two words. Will that be cash, check or charge?
Well, Rudolph brought me back to my own world. A world of comforts. Watching that show made me think about my childhood. And it brought Randy and Karen to mind.
Where ever the two of you are, I hope that you can look back in your life and smile for my parents. And smile the smile a child makes, when they walk into a kid's wonderland of presents, and love. That year is just one small piece of a lifetime of gathered rememberances that I keep inside of me. A simplier time. When one wrong was attempted to be righted.