The beginning of my favorite third of the year is finally here. Autumn and early winter have been my nirvana since I was a child. I purchased Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Coffee today. The entire rhythm of the season engulfs me…and I enjoy the immersion. I am annually amazed at how quickly the time passes from September 1 until January 31. We shop at Sams, which is Walmarts giant wholesale store that is named after the founder of Walmart…Sam Walton, and I mark the season according to the retail displays. Christmas Trees will be appearing shortly…if not already…at Walmart and other retail establishments. This troubles many people…but is welcome by me…I am a Christmas guy throughout the entire year. I think that my mental acuity is better and I am definitely more focused from now until the end of the year. September 1 signals for me the beginning of the fun time of the year. Our family has 2 birthday celebrations during the fall, mine on October 24 and Aarons on November 16, as well as Halloween and Thanksgiving and the big Kahuna…Christmas.
For my birthday…at one time I had 4 to 5 celebrations. MJ took me out for a birthday dinner, usually at our favorite restaurant, Cunetto’s House of Pasta on the Hill in St. Louis, and there was another dinner on the day of my birth. Also, our good friends, Jo Ann and Peter, hosted us at a local restaurant for Peter and my mutual October birthdays. And often my wonderful staff at SIUC would have a recognition of my birthday at our offices. Spoiled you say…you are correct…
MJ’s and Aaron and Jonathons Christmas celebration was of paramount importance to me throughout their childhood. I wanted each year to be a memorable event. We began, early on, taking them to the headquarters of Famous-Barr in St. Louis to see the animated Christmas Bears. These were robotic bears that were dressed in holiday regalia and were busy trimming their Christmas Trees. Almost an entire floor of the massive Famous-Barr building was devoted to this Christmas extravaganza. The line for viewing the Christmas Bears was long…but it moved fast. My mother-in-law, Fernie, enjoyed the Bears as much as her grandchildren.
Christmas at First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale is a major event. The first Christmas Season at First Presbyterian was a revelation for me. I had been a christian and a church goer for nearly 30 years…but the churches that I was familiar with had not made a big deal about Christmas. Christmas to me is the big event in the Christian Calendar. I took note that our church trimmed the Christmas Tree and purchased gifts for children who were members of families who were not financially secure. The Christmas Eve Service seemed to be taken directly out of Charles Dickens famous book…A Christmas Carol.
Cool and brisk temperatures…inspire me. As nature draws in its life force…I feel comforted and secure and renewed for the year that is on our doorstep. Halloween was much fun for me as a child. I enjoyed Monster Movies and my cousins monster masks. There were even Monster Magazines in those ancient days of the early 1960s. I had put together Monster Models of Frankenstein and Dracula and the Wolfman…and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. They sold them with the model cars. I was proud of my work. I made an 8 millimeter movie with my cousin. I was wearing his full head and face covering of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Universal Studios, Mask. I was also wearing the Creature’s hands. We filmed it at the Eldorado Spillway. It was a work of art!
On one of the boys earliest Christmases we purchased a Fischer Price Farm for them. I was so proud of this purchase as I knew that Fischer Price produced a good and safe product for young children. Later when we bought a Teddy Ruxpin, which was a talking bear, for Jonathon, he did not last Christmas Day. We had scrimped and saved to afford Mr. Ruxpin…and we had succeeded in acquiring one. As the early sun set on our revelries …Jonathon came to me and asked if I could fix Teddy Ruxpin…as he had ceased to communicate. Now Teddy had a moving mouth that slightly corresponded with a cassette tape that fit in a compartment in his back. Jonathon had been unhappy with the speed that his Bear was speaking and had subsequently removed his bottom lip. There was no hope for the loquacious bear.
Tara, our nice, wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll. They were rabidly popular and we could not find one anywhere. We went to our local K Mart and participated in the Blue Light Special. The announced that there was 1 Cabbage Patch Doll available and that it was first come and first serve. The struggle was incredible. Clothes were torn and fists were felt and running and jumping and screaming…and no Cabbage Patch Doll for us. We traveled to St. Louis and finally succeeded in obtaining the Christmas Doll for our nice.