Merry Christmas 2009

December 24, 2009
By

My Dear readers….

I wrote a Christmas story some years ago about my most memorable Christmas.

It’s called…..
“Christmas on Outer Drive”

Over the years I have only shared this story……..
With a few close friends and a certain member of Alabama royalty.

I am not sure why I decided to share this with you all now…..

But I hope you enjoy it….
If you enjoy it, share it with whoever you like…

Merry Christmas my friends

RTR
MEB


CHRISTMAS ON OUTER DRIVE

It was Christmas 1962, when America didn’t have a clue what a Vietnam was
and most women were more concerned about which hat Jackie would wear during the holidays than they were about world politics.

Even at the ripe old age of four this wonderful foster family provided by the state that was kind enough to explain to me that Santa Claus…
Ole Saint Nick to you and me, didn’t visit children without a mommy and daddy.
Those were the “bad” children; that’s why their mommies and daddies left them with the state.
Made sense to me at the time; so, it goes without saying that my expectations were not very high this holiday season.

Imagine my surprise when Miss Connie, who lived next door in the duplex……
told me that she was “sure” that Santa was going to drop off a present for me at her house.
She would bring it over to me on Christmas day. What? Could this be true?
I couldn’t hide my excitement or stop talking about Santa’s generosity.
The whole concept of Santa Claus was beyond my ability to comprehend.
But yet, I was able to grasp the idea of a “special” gift created just for me and built by elf’s working at union wage at the North Pole.
Go figure.

I have been exposed to various family Christmas traditions throughout my extensive tour of state homes over the years before I had grown up.
However, this particular family enjoyed opening a variety of packages on Christmas Eve and saving a select few……
Along with Santa’s delivery, to open on Christmas morning.

On this Christmas Eve I was a very disinterested observer.
Despite the fact I wasn’t going to get any gifts, after all it was pointed out in advance, that “taking me in” and feeding me was “gift enough”.
I wanted to speed up the whole process; move on to Christmas morning…..
So I could get whatever wonderful item Santa would leave me at Miss Connie and Mister Ken’s house.
Could you blame me?

I remember these events with perfect clarity, recalling the scents and colors of the scene around me.
I can recall the feeling of unbridled enthusiasm of Santa’s impending arrival and the personal torment of a child wondering what he had done to make his parents not want him.

But I need to get back to the subject.
Somewhere during the course of the evening with my foster family……..
With the sound of tearing wrapping paper and empty boxes mixed with the laughter of the adults and their biological child, underneath the shimmering Christmas tree,,,,,
I took it upon myself to commit the ultimate breach in Christmas etiquette.

I was entrusted with prior knowledge of a special gift intended for the master of the house.
As he ever so slowly began the process of unwrapping his “special” gift…..
He also, began the “What did you get me?” game, which I was totally unfamiliar with at this particular time.

I cannot recall if I was exasperated with the speed of the deliberations
or I was attempting to be helpful with the questions from the master of the house.
It may have been a combination of the two.
But regardless of my reasoning….
During the guessing game conducted by the master of the house with his “real” family,
I suddenly and without warning blurted out, “It’s a Tool Box”.

It was as if someone pulled the plug to the volume control.
I have never heard a room go from the bustle and excitement of Christmas, with the tearing of packages and all the electricity that comes with the moment….
To complete silence in a micro second.

I was now the total focus of everyone’s attention.
Which is never a good thing.

Total disgust from the gallery of observers was matched by the murderous expression displayed by the man of the house.
He slowly stood from his chair, stepping over the remnants of packages and his “tool box”.
The only sound I heard were his feet making contact with several pieces of wrapping paper.

He made approximately four strides that seem to take forever to complete in my minds eye.
He bent slowly, until our nose’s nearly touched.
I can smell the spent Pall-Mall’s on his breathe and the sticky sweet smell of, what I now recognize as, Southern Comfort.
Daniel in the Lions Den had nothing on me……

Between clenched teeth he told me that I had ruined Christmas for the whole family.
To be honest, I had figured that much out on my own at this point.
However what I did not anticipate, which to this day baffles me…..
Particularly considering my highly evolved survival skills, is what transpired next.

He struck me so fast on my face with his open hand that I wasn’t quite sure that I had been hit.
However, all doubt left my mind when my buttocks and shoulders made contact with the floor.
I remember the embarrassment of being knocked down, as opposed to the pain of the blow.
It’s funny what you remember sometimes…..

I immediately rolled my body into a ball, in anticipation of being kicked and I wasn’t disappointed.
Fortunately, he was barefooted and didn’t put a lot into it, or use his heel.
After a couple of kicks in quick succession I was told to get up and go to bed, while the rest of the “real” family continued with their holiday celebrations.

Excitement overshadowed any pain that I may have experienced thinking about Santa’s subsequent arrival ….
And my gift to be left with Miss Connie and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke before dawn on Christmas morning.

I remember pacing frantically in my little room and trying not to wake anyone in the house.
I didn’t want to wait for Miss Connie or Mister Ken to bring Santa’s gift to me.
As soon as I knew they were awake I would knock on the door and inquire about Santa’s visit the following evening (I had a plan)

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for my plan to go into action.
Shortly after the sun came up I smelled two very important and familiar items that Christmas morning.
I smelled Miss Connie’s coffee pot and Mister Ken’s pipe.

Already, in my overalls, I slipped on my boots and quietly made my way out of the duplex to their front door.
Once I was at the front door, I suddenly lost my nerve and found that I couldn’t knock.
I was afraid of disappointment or maybe I was just plain scared, I really don’t remember.

Good fortune was mine this day…..
As I was turning to leave, Mister Ken; God bless him, opened the door…..
And said something about hearing shuffling on the porch, and invited me in to the wonderful smell of Miss Connie’s pancakes.

I soon found myself eating like I was going to the electric chair.
The exquisite taste of those pancakes, mixed with melted butter and maple syrup, washed down with ice cold milk made me momentarily forget all about gifts, packages or Santa.

Miss Connie and Mister Ken had already raised three boys by the time of this story and missed the sounds of boys in their house.
I was always welcome in their modest home and felt warm and safe in their presence.
I don’t think I ever left their house when I wasn’t still chewing some marvelous delight prepared by Miss Connie.

While I was digging into my second helping of pancakes with Mister Ken asking me if I had seen Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers on the television set..
Miss Connie interrupted and explained that they had found a gift with my name on it, under their tree for me this morning.
Before I had a chance to finish chewing, she had set the gift down on the table next to me.

The paper and ribbon were magnificent.
I had never seen such a package.
Smiling broadly, they encouraged me to go ahead and open it.
With maple syrup on my face and hands I began to tear into “my” package.
I started pealing the paper, and next I broke the seal on the box encasing my Christmas surprise.

Inside the package was a plastic bag holding some one hundred plastic soldiers and the top of the bag was advertising the popular television program “Combat”.
There was an American jeep and a German pillbox in the bag as well.
This was beyond my wildest expectations!
I jumped up from the table hugging them both as tightly as I could and asked them to please thank Santa for me.
I have never received a better gift anytime in my life.

I will never forget that gift, the kindness of those two people, or that particular Christmas on Outer Drive.
In time, I moved on to a series of state homes, and Miss Connie and Mister Ken were to lose their oldest son Jerry, in Vietnam.
But this moment for me is frozen in time.

It doesn’t take much effort to create a memory for someone who doesn’t have much hope.
Take the opportunity to bring a little hope to someone this Christmas season, create a smile or generate laughter in those who need it the most.

Merry Christmas

Post script…

This story is for Connie and Ken who have gone on to meet the Lord.
Two sweeter or loving people have never walked this earth.
They provided a poor child with love and care that will never be forgotten.

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2009

RTR
MEB

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11 Responses to Merry Christmas 2009

  1. Kaye on December 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I’ll try to thank you , with tears in my eyes. Beautiful story and you’re right, helping someone who has no hope is a special gift all its own.

  2. Bulldog Jim on December 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    BAMA Mike, wonderful story. Thank you and thanks for another great season! Happy 2010!! Your pal, BJ

  3. MEB on December 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you Bulldog Jim and I hope you and your beautiful family have a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year

    RTR
    MEB

  4. MEB on December 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you so much Miss Kaye

    I hope you and all the Utes in your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Roll Tide Roll New Year!

    RTR
    MEB

  5. Christy on December 25, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing story. It will take a while for me to absorb it all, but I won’t ever forget it. God bless you and all the “Miss Connies” and “Mister Kens” of the world.

    Roll Tide!

  6. Craig on December 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Thank you MEB for sharing your story. It serves as a good reminder that we should not only be giving during this one particular season but throughout the year. I would also like to thank you for the colums you write and hope that you do not stop any time soon.

  7. BamaPrincess on December 25, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Oh man!!! I still get tears in my eyes. What a blessing you are to us all – for not only protecting our country and keeping us laughing, but for sharing such an amazing tale!!!

    ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!

    Mr. Wiz, come home soon!!!

    The BamaPrincess

  8. MEB on December 25, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Bama Princess

    It was your encouragement that made this story to print; hence the reference to Alabama royalty.
    I will never be able to thank you enough.
    I Hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and again, thank you for your kind words and encouragement

    ROLL TIDE ROLL

    MEB

  9. MEB on December 25, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you Craig, I truly appreciate your kind comment.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours

    RTR
    MEB

  10. MEB on December 25, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you Miss Christy….and once again you are O’ so right.
    God Bless those fine folks…and all the people that follow them.

    A Very Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family
    and
    A BIG ROLL TIDE ROLL
    New Year
    RTR
    MEB

  11. Barbara on December 29, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    This story tore my heart to pieces. I am so very sad now……

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