Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas 1964

We were too tired after shopping to put up our trees, so the Elvis tree will have to wait until tomorrow. We use artificial trees anyway. Although I like the way a real tree looks and smells, I have always felt guilty about killing a baby tree for decorative purposes. This is a bit hypocritical considering I am surrounded by wood based products in a house built primarily of wood. But I don't eat baby animals either.

But I digress.

Most of my early childhood, we had an artificial tree. It was one of those aluminum jobs that you couldn't put lights on. It was illuminated by a spotlight shining through a motorized color wheel with different colors of celephane on it. The colored wheel made the aluminum tree glow alternately green, blue, red and yellow. In retrospect aluminum trees were kind of lame, but in 1964 they were pretty high tech.

I loved Christmas in 1964. I loved the decorations, I loved the tree (aluminum or not) and most of all I loved presents. I know that sounds superficial, but I was six years old. The sweet siren song of wrapped presents was almost unbearable for me.

My oldest brother used to orchestrate these elaborate plans to hijack one of our presents in the wee hours of Christmas morning. He diagramed the living room where the tree and presents were and coached my other brother and I on a game plan to defeat our home security system -- my father.

We had a shoebox that contained our burglar kit. In it were three balls of yarn with paperclip hooks tied to the ends, three pairs of slipper socks, a flashlight and the plan diagram.

The plan was simple. My middle brother Dan would get up and pretend to go to the bathroom to create a distraction. At the same time, my oldest brother Ted would crawl into the living room and the Christmas tree. He would hook one end of each of the balls of yarn to one of each of our Christmas presents and then crawl back to our bedroom while unrolling the balls of yarn. Dan would flush the toilet to cover up any noise while Ted and I would drag the presents to our room using the yarn.

It seemed like a pretty good plan, but the minute Dan got up to go to the bathroom, my father, who I swear slept with one eye open, yelled, "GET BACK TO BED!" We never got to see if the rest of the plan would work.

So, we had to lay in bed wide awake waiting for our parents to get up and give us the signal that it was okay to raid the tree. Then we'd tear into the living room in our pajamas and wait patiently while my mom took photos of us posing with our packages (I'm reminded of those people who train dogs to sit there with a dog biscuit on their noses until they are given a signal that they can eat). Finally my mom would let us open the packages.

Funny, I can't really remember what any of the presents were, but I can remember the painfully pleasant anticipation of waiting to open them.

There is a life lesson in there somewhere.


Anonymous said...

Mission Impossible Four!

Tim, your mission, if you choose to accept, is to assemble a team of siblings and hatch an elaborate plan to steal christmas presents which, if you fail, will be opened after a short period of photographic humiliation at the hands of your evil nemesis, your Mother. If you fail and are captured, you are to disavow all knowledge of this operation and blame it on your team. Good luck, Tim. This comment will self-destruct once the archives are full.

Anonymous said...

My aunt had one of those wheels with the four different colors of celephane. I remember being hypnotized by it. I'd never seen anything so psycho-delic. It was awesome!

We are expecting photos of the Elivs tree, by the way. No Photoshopping required.

JP (mom) said...

Ooooooo the anticipation! Yes, that was the best part. It was sweet torture for my brother and I knowing the in mere hours (I think 8am was the magical time we were allowed to wake parents & he would usually wake me around 5-6am) we would have our hands on the wrapped treasures that magically appeared overnight. We do contribute to the slaughtering of innocent fir trees - but this year we went cheap & got an Ikea tree, which after we recycle it back at Ikea the first week of January, will only have cost us ten bucks. Whoo-hoo! JP

Anonymous said...

Tim ID..

first off tell me those lovely poinsettia curtains were hung only for Christmas??!!! and if so.. my god your mom went to a lot of work decorating..

i remember Christmases long ago too.. i remember the one year i couldn't for the life of me fall asleep.. and my dad came and climbed onto the bed with me and lay there whispering nonsensical stories in my ear until i finally slipped into slumber land.. (that was a rare event for my dad to snuggle)

and i remember last Christmas eve.. when all the clean up was done.. and everyone was sitting back sated from too much turkey (we do turkey on the 24th) and my grandson and i slipped away and loaded up the pc.. and NORAD.. and watched Santa make his way across the country......

Christmas is magical.. and the memories even more so...


Time said...

THE Michael
In retrospect, plotting to steal presents that we would open anyway a few hours later does seem pointless, but fun nevertheless.

Kristy, It was a mind altering experience. Perhaps I did stare into the revolving light a few too many times as a child.

JP,I do miss the scent of a real tree. Plus the artificial ones shed as much as the real ones. I just can't deal with crowds at IKEA.

Morningstar, I'm pleasantly suprised. You never struck me as being the sentimental type. Good for you!

darlingina said...

I love the real trees too... but they don't like me. First time we had one it had my allergies in such a state of chaos that i was never so glad to get that thing outta my house asap! Besides, gotta love those prelit ones. I mostly remember as a child being up all night sick because i worried so much whether Santa would find our house or not. My parents really loved that, NOT. Thanks for sharing that great family photo Tim, love it.

Time said...

Gina, It's good to see you pop up in blog world again. I missed you! I hope Santa is always able to find your house :)

R. said...

Is Dan wearing a nightgown?

Time said...

R. I think it is time I told you the truth about your Uncle Dan. As Michael Jackson would say, "He's not like other boys."