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.
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