December 22, 2013

Looking at Christmases past -- and presents

It’s almost Christmas and a good time to reflect on Christmases past and present.

My earliest memories are from Thornwood in Westchester County in 1940. Hung from the mantel were green, felt stockings with a little celluloid Santa at the opening. Inside — an orange and a couple of walnuts.

My brother Jim is four years older. We wished hard for a new sled. It wasn’t under the tree. Our parents — with somber faces — reminded us that we had little or no money.

My father told us to go out onto the covered front porch to see if it had snowed. It had. Just a dusting, but enough to make us happy. As we turned to go back inside, we glanced at the right side of the door. There, standing upright was what seemed to me to be the biggest, longest Flexible Flyer sled in the world. What a Christmas. We spent the day sliding down our hill, trudging back up and speeding down again.

We learned that our dad had found the sled in a White Plains thrift store. The fact that it was used didn’t matter a whit. We were in Christmas heaven. When the snow melted the next day, we even tried sliding on the dirt road surface.

Back to Christmas 2013. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Our joy is the blessing of having so many friends and loving family members. Kaye and I will attend midnight mass and will share a Christmas kiss in the morning — perhaps even more than one. What more could we ask for?

Now, my favorite story about unfinished business.

A few days ago, our friend Jerry Rambach dropped by for me to sign a couple of my new Christmas books for gifts. It was a wonderful time. Chats always go better with a good cup of coffee. We munched on his wonderful pfeffernusse, brought as a gift. I couldn’t even spell it without looking in a dictionary, but I certainly have consumed lots of it since first meeting Jerry and talking about the fabulous eatables from his bakery while I was on the radio.

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