by Tim Hauserman
Before bedding down for a much needed sleep on Christmas Night I listened to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. Reluctantly it was the last time I would get to hear it this year. It has been my background music for Christmas’ for over 30 years. And just like that 30 years, this Christmas has come and gone, leaving memories, which is what Christmas is all about.
The long ago memories of my childhood revolve around immense gatherings of my older siblings and their wild brood of urchins taking over my parents house. There were football games on the street (the telephone poles were the touchdown lines, the edge of the road the sidewalk); enormous turkey dinners were followed by turkey and cranberry sandwiches, and lusty Christmas morning attacks into the pile of paper wrapped presents while we drank Ramos fizzes. There is also a less stellar memory of spending the entire Christmas Day watching my beloved Kansas City Chiefs lose the playoff game that turned into the longest game in history.
Then there are the more touching, and quieter, memories of a few decades later of Christmas times with my daughters. Christmas began a few weeks early, with the harvesting of a Charlie Brown tree from the forest nearby, and the girls setting up the lights and their favorite ornaments. I was always the first one up Christmas morning, perhaps still holding out hope in the deepest recesses of my brain that someone had secretly hid my Red Rider BB Gun behind the tree. This was a fitting dream because “The Christmas Story” was always on in the background throughout the day.
Kids in their jammies and me in my ugly Christmas sweatshirt, we slowly made our way though the presents. Quite sedated in comparison to the crazy free for all of dozens of happy kids simultaneously ripping apart the packages that I remember from my childhood. Presents were followed by a glorious breakfast of eggs and bacon and lox and bagels…and cinnamon rolls…,and coffee and hot chocolate…
Now, alas, the kids are all grown, and I cherish the opportunity to get together with them briefly around the holidays when it works for them, this year, at Thanksgiving.These get togethers are still poignant with the memories of those early years. As a parent, every phase of our child’s lives are rewarding, but the best age we will ever experience the true joys and mystery of Christmas are between 5 and 15 years old.
This Christmas Eve was a quiet one with my girlfriend Joyce, and it gave me the opportunity to cherish her memories. Her Christmas tree was loaded with ornaments from around the world, each commemorating a treasured visit to a special place. At the base of the tree was a manger, built by her grandfather over 80 years ago. We toasted to her childhood Christmas memories, and to all those who smiled brightly in those ancient photos that are no longer with us. And expressed gratitude that we are still kicking and gliding.
This Christmas morning I put on my Santa hat and green ski pants and spent my day saying “Merry Christmas” and “what size shoe do your wear” to the throngs of visitors at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. I found joy from seeing how excited they were to be spending their Christmas in the snow at Lake Tahoe. Hopefully, giving their kids Tahoe Christmas memories that they will enjoy decades down the line.