Christmas memories (and 3 Cadillacs)

Christmas time growing up was a pretty low key affair. I can’t even remember if we had a Christmas tree each year, although I suspect the answer was yes. I always knew Christmas was on the way, though, when my dad would pull out the step ladder and screw in about 20 full sized color light bulbs in permanent light bulb sockets he had wired in along the front of our house on Fairway Dr. In this, as was so often, dad was typical and predictable: rarely going for the flashy production, always looking for the best value (in this case, value = lower electric costs). That’s why, for example, he started driving Cadillacs. He believed a 2 year old Cadillac was a better value than a new Ford. 1963 was a special year for a kid enthralled with cars of any sort. A beautiful white 1961 Caddy sat in our driveway and I’d go out just to run my fingers over the chrome edged fins. Quite a step up from the ‘59 Ford. From there he went to a 1963 (baby blue) and a gorgeous light yellow 1965 which spoiled us with our first factory air conditioning.


Christmas always delivered a great treat right after our kids’ Christmas program at church. Every kid who braved the rehearsals and Sunday evening play/songs/scratchy costumes walked away with a large red mesh Christmas stocking stuffed with all sorts of delightfully cheap candy-the kinds that look great and deliver far more sugar than flavor. It was more candy at one time than I ever had, including Halloween (your mom had far better Halloween hauls in Temperance). Usually, I rode home with the beginnings of a noteworthy stomach ache, I’d jammed so much candy down before mom or dad could intervene.


2 childhood gifts really stand out and both had to do with trains:


1st grade, I received a wind up train that travelled around a flexible wire track. It was the most amazing toy. I took it to school for show and tell, I was so excited about it. I wonder if mom knew I was taking it because it was a lot to juggle.


4th grade I spotted a box on the mantle (not under a tree, which is one of the reasons I think we didn’t have a tree every year) with my name on it. The size was a bit suspicious…just about the right size, I thought, for an HO engine and a couple of cars. My cousin, a quarter mile away had received one for his birthday for I had plenty of up close time with his set. Never mind that I had an American Flyer train set (still have it too). Everyone was getting HO train sets. Christmas day, practical and value won out again at my house, as I opened up a new music stand.