|This is the one day of the year when
all of my memory cells kick into overdrive and I begin to recall all of
the wonderful Christmases past. There is also the other part of me that
wonders about the Christmases yet to come.
For many years I have made a tradition
of looking out at the night sky on Christmas Eve in a few moments of silent
meditation. Nothing very profound, just a wonderment at the magic that
seems to permeate the night. Everything is quiet, all of the family is
now asleep, the kids sleeping in restless anticipation, the grownups, too,
but for different reasons.
This is my 73rd Christmas and each one
of those Christmases was a special occasion, seemingly a bit more exciting,
more memorable than the previous one. There were exceptions, of course,
those Christmases spent in the Navy, far from home and family. But in some
ways, they were extra special because Mom and Dad and my wife always managed
to do something, to send some little gift or card or letter that made me
feel they were very close to me on that day.
There was a Christmas in 1959 that was
almost lost. Dad died in November and when the Magical Day arrived, the
entire family was on the ropes. But we did what we had to do for the kids
and for each other and believe it or not, we managed to turn a dark gloom
into a day of remembrance as we knew Dad would have wanted.
There were days of need and days of
plenty. Sometimes we were so poor that we bought the kids three and four-dollar
gifts and we were apprehensive about what to expect from them, whether
they would appreciate our efforts of not. We shouldnít have worried. Our
kids always seemed to look past the material, the commercial part, of Christmas
and to see the fun in the exchange. Lucky parents!!
Now I look at this Christmas and compare
it to all of those other happy times. I know that our kids will wander
in tomorrow with their kids and they will all have some token of their
love and thoughtfulness for us. And we will ooh and aah and say something
like "Thatís what I wanted" but really the best part of the day will be
knowing that they think enough of us to make the effort and to take special
pains to make another Christmas an enjoyable experience for us.
Last spring, while browsing the internet,
I suddenly received a surprising message via E-Mail from someone who said
"Hi, Cuz". I thought "Who in the world is this?". It was signed "Sid".
The last time that Sid and I had seen each other was back around 1970 or
1971. Since that time we had lost track of each other. I had no idea where
he lived or even if he did live. Since then we have maintained our correspondence,
exchanging family anecdotes, photographs, etc., re-establishing family
ties, so to speak.
I hope this doesnít come across as too
personal or too sentimental but Iím gonna say it anyhow. Sid has seemed
more like a brother than a cousin. I have found him to be warm, thoughtful,
at times inspirational, helpful, considerate, and caring. And I love him
like a brother. Sid may not appreciate this sentimentalism but Iíve said
it and Iím glad!! Sid steered me to Ron Martiniís BBS.
Since then, a big part of my day has
been on the BBS, the chat rooms, and the ICQ. I have read most of the posts
and have learned that there are some pretty nice people out there. Did
I say "nice"? I meant wonderful people. Warm, caring individuals, some
who try to appear hard-nosed, tough, and macho but underneath, just a boatload
Who are they? I couldnít possibly name
them all. Thereís Roger Burliegh, Bob Berry, Ron Martini, Mike Maloney,
Mike Grimm, whom we just lost, and his son, Mike, John Ackerman who took
some heavy hits this year, Roy Ator and his Brat, Gil Raynor, who is always
a source of inspiration to me, Frank Toon, Myron Howard, Ramon Samson,
Warren, Len Ledgerman, John Cole, Luke, Fred Smith, Lanny, Jim Steinmetz,
Bobby Barbee, Gerald Buscemi, Mike Rankin, Joe Roche, and so many, many
others whose names may have slipped my mind but who are in my thoughts.
And if I missed you, please forgive me. There must be a thousand or more
on the BBS.
However, to all those whom I named and
all of those whom I didnít name, you have made this Christmas an extra
special one for me. Making all of these new friends is a gift that cannot
To paraphrase my own poetry, "ten thousand
mates and I can state, not one of them was losers." Just in case any of
you missed the only Christmas poem I ever wrote, Iím submitting it once
Mom, do you remember the Christmas of
I got a gun and holster set so I could
play Tom Mix.
And the very next year, I'm sure it
was, when Christmas came around,
I got a bat, a ball, and glove, the
proudest boy in town!
In 'thirty-eight, a ping pong set, and
it wasn't very long
'Til I was undisputed champ of all
who played ping pong.
I got a bike in 'thirty-nine, the only
one I ever had;
No matter how hard the times, you always
managed, you and Dad.
Then came the time in 'forty-two, when
I had to go away,
To do my part to win a war, no time
for Christmas Day.
A homesick boy in Navy blues stared
at the barracks wall,
And longed for home at Christmas, and
family most of all.
Then came the call, the one call, that
sailors love to hear,
Mail call was the call I heard and
the sound meant Christmas cheer.
A package, large and gaily wrapped,
was handed back to me,
I read the tag, "From Mom and Dad",
though I could scarcely see.
Down through the years, you taught me
that Christmas is for giving,
And I learned from you love must abide
or there is no joy in living,
And, Mom, I've taught my children and
my grandchildren, too,
The greatest gift that they can give
is love the whole year through.
TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT!!!