Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Alone

Last night Loi and I sat around the fireplace trying to figure out what we were going to do to celebrate Christmas. The kids with our encouragement are spending the holidays with their own families and building their own traditions. So, we’re back to celebrating alone, just like we did 42 Christmases ago. (Both our parents passed long ago so they won’t be joining us).

Since we’ve moved some 14 times in our marriage, remembering where we were and what we did for those 41 holidays is no easy task…. especially for me! You have to kick yourself for not writing this stuff down. Eventually we sorted it out and were reminded that on many of those Christmas mornings the pickings under the tree were pretty slim. If Santa stopped by our house, he didn’t leave much behind. On the other hand, I don’t recall any of those lean Christmases being unhappy times. We had each other and later three great kids. We laughed a lot and Loi always managed to pull it together no matter the circumstances. On one particularly difficult holiday season Loi managed to cook a full on turkey dinner with stuffing, potatoes, peas, cranberries… the works…. All on a two burner hot plate! We didn’t have a refrigerator at the time either, but a garage is cold in Minnesota in winter. Medals should be awarded for this kind of effort.

Loi and I met during the Christmas holidays on December 27th, 1958 (49 years ago for those slow in math) in the basement of St. Peter and Paul’s Church in Hamburg, NY. The village of Hamburg was the home the Hamburg High School Bulldogs, the archrival of my own Frontier High Falcons. Generally speaking, it was unwise to attend dances in rival territory. However, the Township, which encompassed both schools, had a public beach on Lake Erie and the lifeguards for the beach were selected equally from the swim teams of both schools. Inevitably interschool friendships developed. Generally I attended Hamburg dances in the company of my HHS friend and fellow lifeguard, Bob, who at 6’4” pretty much eliminated any problems for me.

On the fateful night Bob and I walked into the freezing basement of the church and surveyed the talent. I immediately noticed a pretty, dark haired lass standing in a group of girls at the far end of the hall. She was the only person in the place with the good sense to be wearing a pair of woolen mittens. I said to Bob, “I’ve got to dance with that girl!” I did and the rest, as they say, is history.

That dark haired lass has gotten prettier over the years while I…. well, never mind. We’ll be spending a quiet Christmas together as we had 41 years previous. Not entirely alone though. We will have in our hearts our family and friends. We have been truly blessed and we wish the blessings of the Season on one and all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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