Thursday, December 21, 2023

Ghosts of Christmas' past


This was a photo from Christmas 1974. I'm the half-awake skinny teenager on the left. My brother Dan is in the middle in a robe and my father is on the right. I was 16, my brother was 20 and my dad was almost 60. My mom is likely the one taking the photo and my oldest brother was married by then and would likely be coming over later with his wife to open presents from my parents.

I was wearing a scarf I think was knitted by my  first girlfriend. It was the only reason I was wearing a scarf. Scarves weren't a big thing in our house growing up and I didn't really see the purpose in wearing one. 

We are sitting in front of the tree in our family room which had wood paneling, a Franklin Stove and god-awful orange shag carpeting. The room looked the same up until the house was torn down after my mom died about 38 years later. I imagine we would have had a Christmas dinner later that day when my brother and his now ex-wife came over (she was the first of three wives). I was in high school of course and had just started dating that spring. I don't remember what I got my girlfriend for Christmas that year. I was still trying to figure out the complicated rituals of gifts and girlfriends. No matter what it was, I imagine it was the wrong thing.

I don't remember what else I got for Christmas that year. The 70s were a time of 8-track tapes and polyester shirts. My brother is holding a mug from his burgeoning mug collection. It may have been when he started on the path to being a borderline hoarder that he is now (and I am being kind to refer to him a "borderline" hoarder). I'm not sure when he set out on the path to being a Trump groupie. 

My father was a few years from retiring as a custodian at the local university. He had worked at a hardware warehouse for 25 years before the company closed and laid him off when he was 55. He was a good custodian, though. And he brought home crap he found in the garbage all the time so that may have contributed to my brother's hoarding tendencies, too.

I post this photo, not because it was a particularly memorable Christmas. It is just one of the few photos from that time. And it does capture the spirit of the 1970s and my particular teen spirit.

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