Just call me a softie
There’s something mythic about Christmas that appeals to all of us. What is it about this holiday that causes us to remember the good stuff and sublimate the horrible stuff?
I think it’s all about building a legacy of memories. I don’t come from a wealthy family– we’re rather solidly middle-classed, a military family, so I experienced no hardships growing up, but I didn’t put Gucci shoes on my feet, either. If you were to ask me my favorite Christmas memory, it would sound almost perverse– waiting in line at “men’s night” at the post exchange on Adak, Alaska, back in the 70s. I had 4 dollars in my pocket, and I was there with my father and older brother. I had enough money to get my mom something. This was the only store of any kind on the island, so every boy I knew in my age group was there with their fathers and brothers. The exchange put out eggnog and cookies and the line while they kept us behind the gate (they were frantically restocking). We laughed and talked and the guys ran around “joking and smoking” while the men had their own conversations. It’s inexplicable, associating happiness with that dumpy, run-down hangar-like building, but there it is, it’s my favorite Christmas memory from childhood. I got my mom an ashtray shaped like the United States. Santa brought me a G.I. Joe Space Capsule set (I was a big fan of the early vintage Joes and collected sets, so this was a great present).
Personally, I think my memory fixates on this time because of the changes I was going through. A year later I heaved my G.I. Joes into a pond filled with industrial waste and it was no longer cool to play with dolls. I was on the brink of being the sneering teenaged lout I became at that moment in time, and I think I knew it, subconciously, and was enjoying my last Christmas of innocence.
I’m working hard at making my children’s legacy of memory a happy one, and indications are that I’m winning.
If you’ll indulge me for few moments, here’s the recent:
Pageant of Peace on the Mall in Washington, DC
Annie’s Girl Scout troop was invited to perform Christmas carols on the mall for the week long festivities, so we all went downtown to attend to her big performance. It was a mob scene, with all the troops from the Fairfax area contributing performers, so you can imagine the numbers of proud parents. I sat next to a guy who I commute in with every day on the VRE, and he treated Gar and I to a hot chocolate. We were cold, but we had a great time.
That’s the NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE, thank you very much! It had been lit by Bush the night previous.
You can tell that I’m the guy that likes to play with little miniature tin soldiers, can’t you? I was impressed with the giant railroad layout that the National Capital Railroaders put on every year. G Scale (is it G Scale?) definitely isn’t for me, but it sure looks good under the National Christmas Tree.
Anne’s girl scout choir was a hoot.. it was hard to mic that many voices evenly so we heard the front row of juniors shouting there way through the high notes as a nice counterbalance to the professional, magnificent back row…
One Christmas tradition, this butt-frozen correspondent was happy to see revived was the annual gigantic Yule Log, which warmed us up considerable. Not as much as a nice bottle of schnapps, perhaps, but then again, I could drive home without being blotto, so there’s always that.
The National CHRISTMAS tree (thankyouverymuch) looks pretty spectacular all lit up at night, as it should!
I was trying for a long shot with the White House glowing in the background (that’s the building lights just to the left of the tree). Alas, the W.H. was not very brightly lit that night, so the effect was lost. Thanks for dimming the lights, George! You iced me, man!
I always look for my state’s tree (Virginia), in the ring of 50 “state” trees and all the other commonwealths, protectorates, and whatnot that participate:
Virginia’s tree decorations were made by the kids at a nearby elementary school in Springfield, Virginia, this year! What an honor!
We had a great time, and more importantly, the kids built another Christmas memory.