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.
It might not be a Christmas story; however, I feel compelled to share it with you now. As Jerry and I enjoyed our kitchen confab, we recalled something he had told me years ago. It charmed me then and it charms me now.
Jerry and Joan live on the former Harry Canning farm located on the Clark Hill Road in Saranac. One day, a gentleman in his 90s drove into the yard and identified himself as Loyal Canning. He waxed nostalgic as he recalled life on the farm when he was a young lad. He seemed to be transported back more than 80 years while Jerry walked him around the property.
He remembered that he took his jackknife one day and went into the barn, starting to carve his name into one of the upright supports. Alas, his dad caught him in the act and chastised him severely. The carving was not finished and a lifetime transpired.
Now, his only request of Jerry was to be allowed to finish that project. Jerry was delighted to comply. He whipped out his handy-dandy Swiss Army knife, opened the sharp blade, handed it to the old man and stood back while Canning completed what he had started so long ago.
They both had tears in their eyes and I do as I write about it a couple of days before Christmas 2013. Could there have been a better gift to Jerry and to Loyal Canning? I think not.
Christmas is a time for giving without asking for or expecting anything in return. If we can find a moment like the one involving Jerry Rambach and Loyal Canning, we will be fulfilled beyond our wildest dreams.
Just before I began writing this, Kaye showed me a gorgeous Christmas rose in full bloom from her plant in the laundry room. I captured it forever on my camera.
Christmas love to all of you from our house on the frozen river. Have a Merry Christmas and please, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at email@example.com.