I remember when I was a kid living on the outskirts of Detroit, in Taylor in the early 1970s, in early December, aching for snow so badly that it hurt. My dad was fixing up the basement—the first of a lifetime of projects—and there was a dispute about which album to play on the phonograph.
My sister and I wanted Alvin and the Chipmunks, my ma and dad wanted Bing Crosby. I wanted to hear David Seville yell at Alvin in the 12 Days of Christmas. My ma wanted Mele Kalikimaka. I’m now grateful that they won the debate, but I wasn’t then.
But, it did start to snow. I was out before the first flakes hit the ground, ready to build a snowman. We only got a dusting, and so the snowman was half grass. I can still see the streaks of bare patches in the lawn where I rolled out the body.
A week before the Big Day, my grandma brought me to the Eagles, where I wasn’t supposed to know grandpa was dressed as Santa Claus. Even though I could see his familiar glasses, I was left with doubt: it could have been the real old man. After all, he did give me a glorious plastic mesh stocking full of suck candies, the kind that used to hang in the aisles of drug stores.
Some hokey movie was playing on TV, and I laid under the tree, watching the lights sparkle off the ornaments; it was endlessly fascinating. The next day my Aunt Ona came over for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and we had pepperoni pizza, a tradition I still keep. Later that night I could see searchlights out my bedroom window. It was probably for some car dealership, but I was convinced it was to guide Santa. It was oddly spooky.
My dad got me a giant, six-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton made of styrofoam that you had to put together. My sister got some sort of pink thing. We went to my both sets of grandparents afterwards, saw everybody is our enormous family. But it was at my grandma Johnston’s—she had glass doorknobs!—that I got to sneak some beer.
Greatest Christmas Ever.
Merry day everybody.