Remembering some “way back in time” Christmas’s

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You didn’t know Santa smoked?


     The stockings (um, our real socks, not today’s designer specials that hold ten gallons of goodies) were hung (actually safety-pinned to the back of the stuffed chair because the only “chimney” in our 3-room apartment next to the railroad tracks was the incinerator out in the hall that spewed nose-killing smoke around all the door openings when the garbage was burned in it every week) with care (rolling pin threats insured that the safety pins were delicately applied).

     Yeah, carrots for the reindeer and milk and cookies for Santa (left with a note begging for one or two things each) were inevitably transformed to early morning crumbs, drops of spilt milk, an empty booze bottle (Santa needed to warm up after all that North Pole snow) and cigarette butts (you didn’t know Santa smoked?).

     Let’s stay with the socks.  So, these were always the best because when we reached in, we pulled out great stuff like walnuts, and maybe an orange (depending on how big your feet were since this measurement dictated the sock you were allowed to pin up).

     Sometimes, we’d get hard candies, maybe even a candy cane, or Topps Bubble Gum with baseball cards, and almost always the big deal-breaker: a comic book!  If you were really lucky, you might get a new pair of shoelaces or (Zounds!) a pink rubber ball!

     I was probably 15 before I realized that not everybody removed and counted every single one of the 3,000 shreds of tinsel strips and laid them neatly in wax paper wrapped batches of 50 to save for next year, always a challenge after they had been sprayed with canned white “snow.” 

     We never got much in the way of gifts, but we were never hurting for canned white snow, which seemed to just miraculously appear somewhere in between the booze bottles.

     Relatives we hated always showed up with stupid presents we didn’t want (a new set of wheels for a toy car I didn’t have, a boat compass –whoot whoo!– a great amenity for my used, bent 24″ balloon-tire Schwinn bike that had a broken chain and a hitch in its git-along, a plaid shirt from the Salvation Army).

     Neighbors showed up to drink.  Dad’s drinking friends showed up to eat.  It was like somebody robbed the delicatessen across the street once a year.  From Christmas ’til New Year’s, we ate pounds of bologna, salami, cheese, ham (if the economy was good), and coleslaw ’til it was coming out our ears.  My little brother opted for his new shoelaces, which he claimed tasted better.

     Sounds pretty gruesome, huh?  Well, when you don’t know any better . . . it was just fine with us.  I guess there was too much drinking and smoking going on too, but, hey, it was what people did then (and some still do!). 

     Anyway, we did have two very special things that not many people seem to have today: family love and appreciation for what we did have.  I wish these two things for all of you.  They made a difference in my life.  (I do, though, have a rather hefty-size stocking over the fireplace right now!)     halalpiar 

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See Nov 29th post (below) for New Year’s contest prize and rules – Then GO FOR IT!  Emails to with “SOUNDS OF THE SEASON” in the subject line.          # # #

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