A Holiday Reset

‘A Brooks Tale


‘Well, are we going to get up as early as we did last year to shop on Black Friday,’ Mary Jane asked?

‘I think that we should try something different, this year, do you remember how crowded the the Galleria was…and we had to search for a parking place for over an hour,’ I retorted.

‘I remember how impatient that you were and that you swore that you would never go shopping the day after Thanksgiving again, Mary Jane said.

‘Why don’t we visit St. Charles, this year, I have heard that they have a tremendous Christmas Celebration complete with Dickens characters and Period Santa Claus’s, I responded.

‘That sounds great to me,’ Aaron said.

‘Last year, I could not find a place to sit down…and there was almost no standing room either,’ Jonathon chimed in.

And, so, the decision was made, by mutual consent, that we would spend our historic shopping day for Christmas at the historic city of St. Charles, Missouri.

Upon arriving at St. Charles I almost immediately encountered Carolers singing the most beautiful rendition of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’…with the most luxurious smell of chestnuts roasting on a, real, open fire.


St. Nicholas wished me a ‘Joyous Noel’ and subsequently gave me a card with his picture on it and an explanation of his origins in history.


Soon, a band came marching down the street that included; elf’s and fairies and Santa Clauses from all over the world and Mr. Scrooge and Bob Cratchit and his beloved son…Tiny Tim.

We stopped for lunch and the bartender, a most precious woman of good demeanor and judgment, poured me a fulsome portion of Grand Marnier.

As I lustily drank the first draft…she immediately poured me the second…and I felt the Christmas Spirit.

At lunch’s, long completion, we returned to our revelry upon the cobblestones.

Several years ago, we visited Madison, Wisconsin, where I purchased two, historically authentic, Dickens Period Hats.

One hat is a, Carriage Man’s hat, while the other is a Bowler or Derby hat.



As I travel the candle lit streets of St. Charles…I am often mistaken for one of the actors depicting the Dickens Characters.

As a woman exited one of the stores that we were in she exclaimed to her partner, ‘There is the man who drives the carriage!’



As the, late fall, sun begins to set and the candles glow more brightly…there occurs an otherworldly air…or an experience of time travel.

The candle lit shadows of St. Nick and his elf’s and Scrooge…and the Ghost of Christmas Past…who I did not remember from earlier?


And, there was my Dad and Mom and I setting under a massive Christmas Tree…in Chicago, Illinois.

We were laughing and opening gifts…and it seemed that all of the gifts…were mine.

We did not have a care in the world…and we were safe and warm…and we loved each other…and I was four years old…holding Laughing Santa…and every time I turned the crank, that protruded from his back, he laughed an uproarious and unapologetic laugh of zeal and gusto and Christmas Joy.

Suddenly, I was transported to Christmas Eve and my buddy Steve and I were driving to Eldorado, Illinois to spend Christmas with my Mom and Stepfather.

Steve had a 1950’s automobile and it was ideal for a Christmas journey.

On the radio was playing, A Country Christmas.

No sooner was I enjoying the vintage car ride with my pal, Steve, than I was shopping with Mary Jane for our first Christmas Tree at Wal-Mart.

We purchased a six foot tall artificial tree and victorian ornaments to decorate it.

There, was Aaron and Jonathon, three and five years old and full of wonder, as we decorated the tree and placed the, wonderful and mysterious gifts, under the massive yule-tide symbol.

Christmas Morning…the looks of delight and wonder and surprise on the faces of my boys…was the most special of Christmas’s…and one I seek to replicate…each year!

Tiny Tim asked, ‘Have you seen my father?’

I rubbed my eyes and wondered just how much of the wonderful Grand Marnier that I had consumed?

I mentioned to Tim that I thought that I had seen his Dad on the next corner.

He gratefully replied, God bless us…everyone!’




7 responses

  1. Almost “Dickens” like celebration….alongside Shakespeare! Good idea to attend this instead of Black Friday. It has more meaning and revelry than tugging or clawing for that “item” – thanks for the tour BJ. Enjoyed it!☺

    1. My pleasure, my friend. Thank you! 🎩🎅🏻

  2. Sounds like you made the right choice for Black Friday. Fun is so much better than shopping! Love that hat!

    1. Thank you, my friend. 🎩🤠

  3. I absolutely love this. And the carriage hat. So glad to see St Charles is back out of the slump it was in- the last time we visited, several years ago, they had to close one of the churches for lack of funds. Sounds like you all had a great time.

    1. We have been visiting, St Charles for many years on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It is a great Holiday event for us. One year we decided not to go and our sons were very disappointed.

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