It is 8:00 in the evening on this very cold December night as I start writing this. I have had a really slow, relaxing, and uneventful day with my wife. I have been thinking today about some of the things that I want to cover in this Part 4 segment. Hopefully this brings some laughter and perhaps different emotions to the people who read it.
Me, on my first day of school, I think first grade.
As Christmas is getting closer I am reminded of the many stories of my christmas mornings as a child. As I have stated before, I am one of six children being the third. I have four brothers and one sister. It was Christmas Eve and I was so excited to get to bed on time so that Christmas morning would come quicker. All five of us boys shared one bedroom so we all had to go to bed at the same time so that we wouldn’t wake each other up. It was not at all uncommon for my mother to have all of us in bed by 7:00 in the evening. This night was no different. We would often talk amongst ourselves after going to bed and it was also not uncommon for my parents to holler up over the stairs that we needed to stop talking and go to sleep. As time tick tocked away we impatiently whispered back and forth about Santa Claus and his reindeer being able to land on our roof. My two older brothers at this point had this Santa thing all figured out, but I didn’t. I remember my brother Tim sitting on the floor in front of the window and exclaiming that he “just saw Santa fly by” and all of our feet hitting the floor and rushing to the window. To my disappointment I was not able to see him. I remember turning to head back to bed and Tim once again said “there he is again” and I was so excited. You know that kind of excitement you get when your pulse is racing and your mouth runs dry? I was certain that this time I was going to see him and his reindeer. But, to my dismay I was once again disappointed. Looking back on it now I have to give my brother credit for trying his best to help me to continue to believe in Santa. Well after a little while, we all must have fallen asleep because I was awakened to the loudest clatter, bang, boom, smash, followed by quite a long line of cuss words from my father. All of us sat straight up in bed. What in the world was that? I remember listening so intently so as to hear what was happening downstairs. My parents could hear us upstairs speculating as to the cause of this racket and once again they hollered up for us to go to sleep and that it was nothing to worry about. Eventually we all must have fallen asleep until I woke up in the night having to pee. Too much information? Sorry. I remember tip toeing across the floor to the staircase when I heard “who is up” from my mother. “Meee…”I said. “Who is me”, from my mother. “Rusty,.” I said in an almost whisper. “What are you doing up?” “I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. “Well you go down and right back up,” she replied. So lickedy split I was down and up in less than a minute. I wasn’t about to mess with her on Christmas Eve. As I made my way back to bed I was reminded by my older brothers that there was a very strategic way to maneuver across the upstairs hallway without being detected. There were certain floor boards you avoided if you were trying to go undetected. Great…thanks for the reminder. Too late. A couple of minutes later one of my younger brother’s Gary, made his attempt to go downstairs and survey the christmas tree and what Santa had brought. He made it about as far as I did and the same routine followed. Well, it was all up to my two older brothers now to make it downstairs, gather information on what Santa had brought and report back to the rest of us. My youngest brother was a toddler at the time and we knew that we couldn’t send him. So, next up was my brother Tim. He was the only one that had seen Santa twice that night so I was certain that if anyone could succeed at this it would be him. Sure enough, he was like a stealth Navy Seal as he made his way downstairs and back undetected. We got a report of everything under the tree and was finally able to put this night to rest. Morning still couldn’t get there quick enough.
As you may recall I lived on a dairy farm so before we could really enjoy our tree we had cow’s to milk and barn chores to do before we could spend any significant time with the toys that Santa had brought. Christmas morning the chores were done in record time as we were all anxious to open the gifts from under the tree. All of us kids were out of the barn and in the house and cleaned up before my Dad would leave the barn. I remember watching the driveway for him to come around the corner. Our Christmas morning was about to begin. But, first Dad would take time to get cleaned up and then shave!! What… he did not have to shave right now! Looking back on it now I think he liked to tease us knowing that we were excited and could not wait one more minute to start opening our presents. Today, I would give anything to go back and have just one more Christmas in the farmhouse where I grew up… to be waiting for my father to turn the corner in the driveway as he made his way from the barn to the house. Materialistic type things were not something that we got a lot of as kids. My parents were extremely practical and we always got new socks, underwear, maybe a pair of pants and a shirt. Don’t get me wrong, we did get some toys. Just not the one’s we circled in the Sears catalog. Remember, we were poor, we just didn’t know it.
Remember the Christmas that I talked about earlier when there was a loud bang, boom, clashing etc… followed by a list of bad words from my father? It turned out to be a Radio Flyer wagon under the tree that Christmas morning. I wonder if perhaps it might have been a used one that Santa had brought, because it had some dings and dents in it. I certainly didn’t think anything other than perhaps it came from the Island of Misfit Toys! Turns out my Dad had dropped it down the stairs while setting up the tree that Christmas Eve.