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FairfaxOpinion'Old School' column: Christmases remembered

‘Old School’ column: Christmases remembered

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by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette

Christmases past are loaded with memories for all of us, and I’m no exception.

Two Christmas memories are seared into my brain and neither are about presents I received. The first is about a present I gave.

The back story: While using an X-Acto knife to pare pieces of some random project on my mother’s one and only card table, I sliced a gash the size of the Mississippi in its red Naugahyde top. My mother, rarely one to lose her temper, went ballistic and I was properly chagrined.


So my goal for that year was to buy my mother a replacement card table and Spiegel’s catalogue held my redemption. I ordered the best one they had and paid if off “on time” (see my column of Nov. 26) with my babysitting money.

With the final payment, I drove to the catalogue store during my high school lunch hour, with a friend to help me lift the massive box, and picked up my gift, then dropped it at my sister’s house for storage.

Don’t ask how I wrapped the thing. Let’s just say I gave a boost to the giftwrap industry. Mother was duly suprised and I was out of “card table jail.”

Fast forward to my young adulthood for the second Christmas memory. By then I was married and living in my hometown. After the usual Chili supper with my parents and the gift opening, we joined my sister and her husband at their house.

As soon as the kids went to bed, our husbands assembled their big surprise—a Road Racing Set. Afterward, the men found it necessary to test the finished product to make sure it worked, don’t you know. My husband drove the Ferrari and my brother-in-law, Joe, took the Lotus Ford.

Races were won and lost as the liquor supply dwindled. Stumbling home at 3 am, my husband had worn a blister on his trigger finger, but Joe claimed he had won the most races.

The “tournament” continued the next day after Christmas dinner, as the kids for whom the gift was intended were relegated to the pit crew.

Each racer urged whichever hapless boy had been stuck with the task, to get his car back on the track ASAP, after the reckless driver took a curve too fast and crashed.

I remember the plaintive voice of one nephew asking, “When do WE get to play with it?”

Some things and people never change. You don’t have to be Old School to get that.

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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