So I seem to have fallen into a pattern of having a column every other week; co-worker Kim Van Meter also does the same so between the two of us we fill this spot pretty regularly.
Of course, this year December happens to have five Wednesdays so I get to put in one extra column.
Last time I mentioned my gratitude for many blessings I have enjoyed this year. Now it’s a chance to fondly recall some of my favorite holiday season moments – and if I have already done that at some other point through the years, my apologies. I’ve been here so long that I probably have already written similar columns about holidays past, but I love to reflect.
During our recent Christmas party/potluck luncheon here at the office, we were sharing stories of our favorite presents through the years. Mine, not surprisingly, was a tape recorder. Batteries were not included but in his wisdom, Santa had put some in my stocking. I got right to work; well, after all the other gifts had been opened, ooh-ed and aah-ed over, and spent much of the rest of the day doing interviews with my family. Hard hitting, reporter-type questions such as what their favorite gift was, what they were going to use first, what part of the Christmas dinner they enjoyed the most, etc., etc.
I was probably 10 or 11 but the stage was already set for my future endeavors; less than 10 years later I would be wielding that tape recorder as a news reporter for two different radio stations in upstate New York and asking much more important questions. But it was great training.
Christmas Eve was always spent at my paternal grandmother’s house; the home was at the end of a very long and often snowy driveway, half the adventure was just getting there. My dad would sometimes have to go over earlier in the day with the snow blower and spend a couple of hours making sure all my aunts, uncles and cousins could get there safely.
What I remember most is all the commotion; my brother, sister and I, and depending on who made it through the snow, up to seven other cousins on hand. Get 10 kids together on the night before Christmas and the excitement level kind of goes through the roof.
One year when my grandfather was very active in the local snowmobile club, all us kids got these battery operated mini snowmobiles; kind of the perfect size for our GI Joe’s and Johnny West action figures. Johnny West was a plastic molded cowboy who had a wife named Jane and a wide variety of horses and essential gear like chaps, hats and boots. There was also Geronimo, the Indian, and smaller versions of Johnny and Jane, presumably their children. We didn’t care that they wouldn’t have had snowmobiles in the Wild West, we used them anyway.
And the GI Joe’s my brother and I had were the full size ones that today would be collectibles, not the miniature size that became popular later on.
After the Christmas dinner and gift giving, many of us went to the Christmas Eve candlelight church service; from 11 p.m. to midnight, then my mom and dad let us open one gift – that had arrived from far away relatives – when we got home, since it was technically Christmas Day.
Our New Year’s celebrations were fun as well, with a puzzle being done, visiting with nearby neighbors, a fire crackling in the fireplace and some years, when the ice was thick enough, an early morning trip to freeze while waiting for the fish to bite. Friends, family and fishing … a great combination that made for a memorable day.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.