Monday, December 04, 2006

12 Years of Christmas

[posted by Callimachus]

Fifth photo: Dec. 25, 1965.

Now we're talking. My kid brother was born by this time, but I guess he was still asleep. The kitten wasn't a holiday gift: We had found it in the fall roaming across a farm field near our bank -- the field later turned out to be a federal Superfund site, and the cat grew to enormous size and used to chase full-grown collies and goldens around the neighborhood. I'm not kidding.

A "Matchbox" carrying case ("Hot Wheels" were still a year or two off), a Gumby!, and a snow-skimming "saucer" sled. If a kid in my family gets a sled for Christmas, it assures a snow-less winter as certainly as El Nino. A bicycle, on the other hand, meant at least 25 inches.

The saucer sled stayed with us all through three children, but I also eventually made a friend whose family owned an auto body shop and we discovered old VW Beetle hoods were as good, if not better, for downhill runs.

Also a bag of toy soldiers and an original, full-sized GI Joe machine gun nest -- I swear I don't know where all this military hardware stuff came from. At that age we were still running around the yards in towel-capes playing "Batman and Robin."

Among the books I recognize Virginia Lee Burton's "The Little House," which I loved and have already bought a copy for for our soon-to-arrive daughter. Burton's books were full of historical breadth and life cycles, but it took my wife, who had never heard of them till I showed her the one I bought, to make me realize how pervasively tragic they are.

That tractor Gumby is sitting atop was a miracle: Sent by my wacky Georgia-born great-aunt, it ran on batteries and if it hit something, it backed up, turned, and went somewhere else. I thought that technology only came along with Mars rovers.