Written by Galen White
Some of my fondest memories were created during the holiday season many years ago. Of course, most everyone can say the same thing; after all, if you were ever a kid (and I don’t know anyone who wasn’t) you very well remember Santa Claus after he had visited your home Christmas ever night. Well, that is, you remembered what he brought you even if it was a bag of switches.
You know, even the reference to a bag of switches reminds me of days long ago. Specifically, of just how much I worried that Santa might, indeed, leave me a bag of switches and nothin’ else! Man! How would I ever live that one down! Obviously, I argued with myself tryin’ to convince me that I really hadn’t been that bad a young ‘un. Maybe once or twice, but the whole YEAR? No way! Surely the times I was good outnumbered the times I was bad.
The good thing about it all is that Christmas day always proved I was right. Still, the days before ol’ Santa ran his route sure played havoc with my conscience.
There was nothing more enjoyable during those years than when my nieces and nephews would visit. Brenda, Suzy, Mike, Patty, Tommy and Bobby, were more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Now, I have other nephews, Richard and Rusty, but they came along later. However, I’m sure they had their fun times in our old barn, as well.
Most of the time the girls did girly stuff, which us boys wouldn’t do for anything in the world! No way would we ever live to be teased about playin’ with dolls and stuff. We were MEN! And men just didn’t do such things.
On occasion, however, the girls would join us in boyish fun such as “fallin” from the top of a stack of baled hay. We’d all go out to the hay barn where my dad had stacked square bales of hay for the cows during winter and take turns climbin’ to the top of the stack. Then we’d pretend to get shot and would tumble, head over heels, down the bales of hay. Each one of us tried to out tumble and “out-die-in-agony” the other.
Come to think of it, I very well remember thinkin’ that I’d be a movie stunt man when I grew up. Obviously, I didn’t make the movies, but I have pulled a few “stunts’ since those days.
Yes, sir, those were the days, for sure. No worries other than that of gettin’ a bag of switches from Santa or a whuppin’ from my dad for tearin’ up bales of hay in our climbin’ and fallin’. You know how it is with kids, though; the fun, by far, outweighed the other worries.
I very well remember one particular Christmas eve when us four boys decided we would find out if there really was a Santa Claus or not. Although it was a fairly cold night, we finagled our parents into lettin’ us spend the night out in the same of’ hay barn.
Now, you might first think that was foolish with it bein’ winter and all, but trust me; an old blanket wrapped around you, and snuggled into the hay…, well, we were as toasty as….well, toast. Besides, cold just doesn’t affect kids the way it does us old folks.
Anyway, we managed to stay awake until we thought ol’ Santa might be gettin’ close. Then we slipped outta the barn and up to the edge of the dirt road that ran in front of my house. There, we took our seats on the ground and began our vigil. It was crystal clear, cold night, and stars glistened everywhere as we scanned the heavens, lookin’ for somethin’ movin’ ‘cross the sky that just might be ol’ St. Nick. I honestly don’t believe I’ve ever seen a night like that since.
Now, we were maybe fifty feet from our house, which had a large picture window in front. My folks had not pulled the drapes, so we had a clear view into the livin’ room so we cold watch Santa as he entered the house. And since we didn’t have a chimney, we fig’erd this was gonna be a sho’ ’nuff sight to see!
Well, much to my dismay, didn’t much happen for a while. In fact, that “while” turned into a longer “while”. After sittin’ there for an hour or so, our bottoms began to feel the cold ground and the cold night air began to wrap around us, we decided it better to let ol’ Santa do his thing without four knarly-headed boys spyin’ on ‘im.
We unanimously decided finin’ out if Santa was real or not wasn’t as important as findin’ out what he left for us after his visit. We may have been young and inexperienced, but we weren’t dumb. At least, we weren’t dumb when it came to Santa Claus. Who, in his right mind, would risk losin’ such a good thing?
As I look back, I’m almost saddened by the loss of such adventures. No longer can my imagination fuel such anticipation and excitement. On the other hand, I get to see the same anticipation and excitement in the faces and eyes of kids everywhere; especially in the eyes and faces of my grandkids. It’s a wonderful feeling, too.
Next time you are shopping, stop and take a gander in the toy section. Watch kids as they look in awe upon things that they are hopin’ Santa has picked out for them. If you can’t smile when seein’ that, you need to lighten up a bit.
To all, here’s my wish for you and yours to have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.