Ghosts of Christmas Past

Quote of the Day:

“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ” ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

TB’s enjoying a moment of holiday solitude and reflection before the fire and thinking about the 38 Christmases I’ve known. The best gifts ever, as judged by how readily they leap to mind, were the train set around 1979 and the Atari 2600 in 1982. The train was something I’d never considered. I probably had seen pictures of them in the Sears Catalogue we used each year to mark our wish lists and discounted one as a present. After all, something that large would definitely cost too much by my logic of the era. A lot of fun was had with that train even though my left-handed Dad and I (with no excuse but ineptitude) outright butchered most of the model buildings we built. The 2600 though was the biggest surprise. My Mom insisted time and again through the late fall that the 2600 was both a budget buster and that video games were an inadvisable use of time. One late December day as our by now familiar debate heated up once again my Dad finally weighed in with his “no and that’s final” edict. In tone and expression, I knew he meant it and surrendered unconditionally all hopes of Space Invader Yuletide bliss. Never before or since has he employed said tactic and failed to enforce it. To this day I do not know whether he was overruled by Moma or was going nuclear on the deception. If I had to bet I’d say it was the former.

As much as I treasure the memory of the unearned annual bounty that typified my childhood Christmas morns, my recollections immediately fly to the loot hauled in by my asshole runnin buddies.  It was the same way back in the old days. No sooner had I finished my last sweep under the tree to find one last passed over hidden gem, I’d get on the phone and call BR. We’d conspire to rid ourselves of family obligations as soon as possible and bring our best portable pieces to a central location to show off and share. I recall his bikes and his Broncos gear, but mostly I think we’d dump within minutes whatever we got that morning in favor of a tried and true basketball or football, and we’d get right back to the classic sporting confrontations we always waged. But he wearing his new bright Bronco orange and me with the equally new, but eminently more tasteful orange of the Dolphins.

For Smily I didn’t have to call. He and his brother were the kings of Christmas on our street. First automated preschool motorcycles, later go-carts and three wheelers, those boys would zoom back and forth on their cutting edge gifts for hours while BR and I silently wondered at our sad plight. Our parents would never measure up to such a level of cool. An even more vivid memory regarding Smily is one of our earliest and typically inane arguments. Smily, you see, lived in a home without benefit of a chimney. He insisted Santa simply came in the back door to leave his gifts, but the logic of this assertion completely mystified me. If he could do this, why bother with chimneys at other houses? Some fact was missing. Either Smily was lying or misinformed or…..well, the alternative was unthinkable.

It is cliché, but to see through the eyes of a child is to truly appreciate Christmas to its fullest. I guess the best way to do that is to bring back all those old memories. Here’s to your own treasure trove within.


For those of you new to the TBU and from some place other than South Mississippi or Louisiana, I give you “The Cajun Night Before Christmas”. I hope somebody posts a better version to You Tube before next year, but for now this will have to do.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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10 Responses to Ghosts of Christmas Past

  1. Harmony says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, TB! I never heard of the ‘Cajun Night Before Christmas’’s quite the tale! Thanks for sharing it.

    I am currently (only) in my 10th year of Christmas, but I have seen the eagerness behind Austin’s needing to share his Christmas morning treasures with friends and family. It’s amazing, the things, that can bring us together..the joy to be had. Although, sometimes I do wonder when traditions will take lead and the flow of Christmas will just flow.

  2. Jessie Lou says:

    Merry Christmas from South MS to all in the TB Universe! It will be a quiet one with IR staying at home. I just wish the ham I’d sent to my boy had made it! Better luck next time. I know what my husband has waiting for me under the tree and I can hardly wait! A new camera will keep me busy for days to come. And hopefully some good books are there as well – we shall see what my youngun has shipped to me!

    We also made our lists from the Sears Wish Book! My favorites over the years were the Figure 8 Race Track, Zebco 33 Fishing Rod and my 3 speed bike. Once we no longer believed in Santa my parents would wrap all the gifts and put numbers/codes on the boxes. We didn’t know whose was whose until Christmas morning when Dad would post a list. It was fun trying to break the code which I only mastered once. Ya’ll are all probably too young to remember Santa coming on TV on Channel 5 every afternoon at 5pm to read his letters while he sat in his sleigh. Very funny now that I think back on not being able to miss that!

  3. Smilyj says:

    I think some of my earliest gifts revolved around how much of a challenge it was for my dad to get them there the morning of christmas and still make it seem as though Santa brought it. TB surely remembers my tree house. I never could figure out how an entire tree house could show up over night in my back yard unless Santa WAS real and he WAS magic. It was years before my Dad told me how he did it. Quite remarkable, and probably convinced me Santa was real for a longer period than the other kids believed in him.

  4. Jessie Lou says:

    SmilyJ – Just think how much your dad must have loved you to make that treehouse happen the way he did. That was my thought when I read that anyway.

    All the presents are opened, the lunch is eaten and cleaned up, husband is on the way to his hunting camp and it is now time for me to settle in for a long winter’s nap. Hope you are all having a great Christmas Day!

  5. Madd Dawg says:

    Check out this article on the celebration of Festivus.

  6. Harmony says:

    Smilyj ~ What a great memory to have! I would have without a doubt believed in the magic that is Santa had something like that occurred in our household. A great reminder that we are in control of the fond memories our children will have.

    JL ~ Santa would read letters on tv? That must have been very exciting! Austin, recently received a letter from Santa..MADE HIS DAY! He had asked Santa for some gas for his motorcycle. Santa was good to not forget..and left him a can on the porch.

    MD ~ We did Festivus all year long..well at least the airing of grievances part..LOL! Great article..thanks for sharing.

  7. Jessie Lou says:

    Harmony – Santa surely did read his letters on TV – live from his sleigh in Mobile, Alabama. We could not wait to watch him every afternoon and I am quite sure I wrote to him because I had a love for letter writing at quite an early age.

    I had a web address for where you could send your child a video for Santa complete with him calling your child by name. I saw a video of Santa speaking to a child and it was great – especially since the kid was naughty and only due to receive coal. If IR was under the age of 12 I would have sent him one of these. I used to have him pretent to be Santa and call his cousins to talk to them about their behavior – it was alot of fun.

    MD – Didn’t Kramer celebrate Festivus?

    On a separate commerical note – I went to see “It’s Complicated” today and I highly recommend it – I laughed the entire time.

  8. quail09 says:

    JL…..George’s dad created Festivus…Kramer thought it was cool….George hated it…especially the feats of strength and the airing of grievances……………..i went to see “Up in the Air” yesterday…good Clooney movie…has good themes throughout…commitment, human contact, importance of family, compassion, etc…..and, if you’ve done ANY business travel, you’ll relate to a lot of the scenes…. has one really good nude scene too…sorry, not of Clooney

  9. irvineredd says:

    Yes, Festivus came to be due the circumstances surrounding the attempted purcahse of a doll (a girl one at that) for young George. In the words of Frank Costanza, “As I rained blows upon him, I realized, there had to be another way.”

    Hope everyone had a good Christmas. We had a white one up here in VA after the big snow of the weekend before.

    JL, I do recall those phone calls, and they were fun. Just wait til I have a child (which ain’t happening soon) and you and Trevor can be Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

  10. Jessie Lou says:

    IR – I got an artificial christmas tree today – such a great deal! And I think/hope just the right size. I hope I will be the kind of grandmother that I had – wacky and would say anything that would crack you up and never cared that you came home drunk.

    Qo9 – I just purchased that book as a Christmas gift to someone who used to do a lot of business travel. Your comments make me think I made a good choice. As for George, I’ve got an imagination that won’t quit 🙂 Might actually make him better than reality.

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