Saturday, December 24, 2005


So I'm not PC. Sorry. Happy Festivus then.

Every time I smell felt, I think of the green felt covering my Lionel trainboard that Santa put up under the tree when I was young. I could barely get to sleep when I'd hear him cursing loudly as he smashed his hand, or got a shock from the Plasticville interior lights that poked up from beneath the board.

We had early twinkling lights and they made little "dings" as they superheated to just below tree-torching temperatures, then would wink out. The whole tree-full made a sound like ice crystals should make when they form in the air on a cobalt sky day of sunny cold.

I would stare into the reflective balls and see the world wrap around itself. I still like shiny metal colors. I still like it when the world wraps around itself.

I'd drop a tablet into my train smokestack and the locomotive would start to puff. It would circle the tree endlessly, with my careful driving on the big transformer. Sometimes it would veer off the board at high speed and crash to the valley floor below. Luckily, it would miss the stack of presents which were on display there. I'd lean on the horn and it would remind me of the real ones I'd sometimes hear wailing into the dark, when the wind was right, off in the distance, right before I feel asleep, safe in my bed.

Sometimes I'd go back to the now 'empty' stocking hung with care and find another special toy hidden in the toe. That was great!

I loved guns. One of my favorite Christmases brought a ping pong ball gun. There was a picture of my dad showing a very young me how to shoot it. This was not my typical dad. Years later, after some drinking, he and my uncle stood in the ocean surf shooting 45s at the moon. How I wish he would have played with me that way.

Christmases are like a cavalcade of time and memory. Benchmarks for family, friends, joy, and loss. I hope they bring you peace and jubilation this year. And maybe you get your ping pong ball gun!

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