Chuck Brooks' column: Christmas season is full of special memories
As some of you might be aware, this is one of those rare years when Christmas and New Years falls on a Wednesday, so negotiating the calendar is always a little trickier. Do you really want to have people come back to school on Monday, the 23rd and then start the break with Christmas Eve?
Chances are many people would be traveling already and schools would be sparsely attended on that Monday. Thus, the last day for us is Dec. 20.
Then, on the flipside, with New Years on a Wednesday and people travelling, do you really want to bring schools back on the Jan. 2 and run the risk of more absences on that Thursday than would be normally? Again, the answer was to simply extend vacation over that weekend and have schools restart Jan. 6.
Thus, it’s a two-week break this year. The unfortunate payoff is we go late into June. That’s never a pleasant trade-off. However, it is what it is, so we make the most of what we can on the front side. For many of us, that means a far less stressful final approach to the holiday. If we haven’t finished shopping, there’s time. If we haven’t finished preparing for company, there’s time. If we have finished everything, then there’s finally time to simply enjoy what remains of the season. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough time to enjoy the season. That’s why I start celebrating it Nov. 1 with music.
I believe I’ve told you I’m a Christmas freak. Always have been. The idea of an added couple of days to enjoy it minus school excites me to no end. I’ll head back to my hometown to be with my siblings. My sister and I will especially enjoy the bonding time. To be in my hometown during the season is something very special to me. It’s where all my fondest memories of childhood reside. I think I turned her into an obsessive Christmas creature years ago. She drives her husband crazy with Christmas specials from the 60s that were a part of our childhood Christmas memories. A newer secret pleasure is ELF. His reaction to us watching that time and time again is one to behold.
If you’re as nutty about this holiday as I am, then I suspect you also love talking about the childhood memories with your peers as I do. As we approach the final week of school, our lunches will be occupied with “Did you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?”-type questions. I absolutely love those conversations. I never tire of them. My memories are so vivid from when I was a “believer” that they’re always such a treat to relive.
For example, I remember our main street had phones installed in certain spots, and if you picked up any of the phones at any time (I am sure there was a time frame, but I didn’t know that then), you’d get to talk to Santa instantaneously. One day my mom and I were shopping downtown, and it was snowing to beat the band, but she stopped with me so we could talk to Santa on one of the phones. Heart attack city, I tell ya!
Another memory is on Christmas Eve night when I was probably 7 or 8. I was in my bedroom with my older brother, and I was looking outside the window, hoping to spot the sleigh in the night sky. What I did see was Santa walking into our neighbor’s house two doors down. I could hardly contain my excitement. My brother, five years older than I and privy to the adult knowledge about the concept of Santa, warned me to get into bed and fall asleep because if Santa showed up and I wasn’t sleeping, it was lights out for presents that year!
My brother enjoyed persecuting me about Santa. He said he was an elf for Santa and had an invisible phone on the headboard of his bed and I remember him calling Santa to tell him I wasn’t listening to one of his elves. I also remember him telling me he had a secret sleigh he could fold up into a square smaller than a Rubik’s cube, and I bought it all hook, line and sinker.
Fond memories. I know too many of my students won’t have fond memories of these years and the holidays and I wish I could change that for them. If ever the child in me battles to get free of this adult shell, it’s this month. I really don’t fight the urge too hard. After all, it’s only once a year.
Next week, “From the Mouths of Babes,” will return with its slant on the season.
It’s only fitting.