Tuesday, January 06, 2009
My Dad's Take on Christmas Morning (Oh Dad Column if it was still in the paper)
The perfect gift
worth waiting for
By Roger W. Hoskins
Words Worth Remembering
In the winter of 1959, all I wanted for Christmas was an NHL Hockey Night in Canada game. It was all I wanted in 1960 and 1961, too. One wintery day in 1959, I had spent an afternoon of bliss playing with my neighbor David Best and his game.
From then on I was a hockey junkie and the only fix was the game itself. But kids wanting Christmas presents is a slippery slope. Having previously begged the same season for a six-finger baseball glove, Fort Apache action set, electric football, I realized it was my own fault when Santa couldn’t pull my miracle out of his bag.
So I spent that Christmas launching Cape Canaveral missiles across the basement sky. The only thing missing was the rocket’s red glare. But I had a work around. The smallest two missiles could fit into the mouth of my replica civil war cannon. The cannon went off with just a little less noise than the real McCoy. It used paste, a drop of water and a spark to send quivers of thundering joy down young spines. But the science of past and present was stopped dead in its tracks before a second test fire could be lit. The first blast brought Dad down the steps and he confiscated the cannon and secret paste.
My sister and I played Sorry for rest of the day. Sorry was the game Uncle Frank gave us on three consecutive Christmases. That wasn’t a mistake, really, because we needed replacement parts each summer. The stiff cards also made excellent motor sounding additions to bikes when attached near the spokes with clothes pins.
The second year I got the football game but it was the wrong one. I wanted Cadaco Foto-electric and my parents brought home the kind where vibrating players inched across the board. I had asked for football so it was my own fault for not providing a picture. The third year I struck gold by only asking for one thing and one thing only.
At last, my pop and I were playing for the “all-time, big-time, full-time” hockey championship. My father was adept at a center pass and rush and beat me handily the first month. Then I started winning a few, usually 10-9, but I’ll never be sure that Dad didn’t let me win.
That hockey game in my 10th year was my top gun, my Red-Ryder, lever action bb gun with a compass in the stock. And it was something my pop really seemed to like. If he didn’t he never let on. Christmas has evolved for me over the years. No I want to be Santa and save Christmas for people I love. The first time my wife and I played secret Santa for friends, some of the joy disappeared when we weren’t even suspected of the good deed. It shouldn’t matter but when friends round up the suspects, you’d like to be somewhere on the list.
As a 57-year-old grandpa, now I watch for the moment when I can step in and save Christmas and I no longer mind if no one suspects.
My grandchildren have given me the best Christmas I could ever hope for.
My 5-year-old grandson Cameron sold candy and whatever for the right to pick out one present for himself. He outsold the whole school so he had his choice of an impressive array. There were video games for his DS or playstation, sports equipment, musical instruments. The choices were enough to make an adult’s head spin. His father and mother tried to give him counsel but the final choice was left to him.
On Christmas Day he brought his cherished prize to share with the family. He wheeled up a blue bicycle and wearing a grin bigger than he was, Cameron gave his prize to his cousin Jacob, age 6. Cameron picked the bike because Jacob didn’t have one. He picked blue because that was Jacob’s favorite color.
And that’s the story of my most memorable Christmas, even better than the hockey game I once waited three years for.
Merry Christmas to all.