I mean winter break. That’s what they call it in school. Although I was at school last week and the place was suspiciously decorated like everybody was celebrating Christmas. Trees, lights, ornaments, etc. Which is somewhat humorous if you go back and spend a little time learning about these holiday traditions. From what I’ve been able to gather, some northern Europeans started bringing evergreen trees indoors, or what passed for indoors a few thousand years ago, to celebrate the winter solstice. The Christian church incorporated this tradition sometime around the 1500’s. Maybe earlier depending upon whom you ask. The thing I find humorous is that the tree was a tradition begun by pagans, adopted by Christians and then condemned by secular left who renamed them holiday trees because the trees represented Christian tradition. Funny how those things happen.
Regardless, I was in school last Wednesday with Mom to watch the 4th graders in the Wax Museum of Inventors. Every 4th grader picked an inventor, prepared a brief presentation, and then pretended to be made of wax. We walk through the gym, err museum, and step on the “start” buttons and they’d come to life and we’d hear the presentation. Kinsey was Dr. Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone. Here’s the prop she used:
Then Thursday morning Riley and I had to run back to school because Rye left her iTouch in her desk. And there simply wasn’t any scenario in which we were going to listen to the whining that was certain to fill every single day of Christmas vacation should she be without the iTouch. So I drove her to school and convinced the janitor to let us into her classroom so she could retrieve the aforementioned device. Mission accomplished.
So we’re well into Christmas Vacation for the girls. And it got me thinking about when I was the girls’ age and my Christmases in 2nd grade, 4th grade and 6th grade. This turned out to be harder than I expected. My second grade Christmas was 1977. My most distinct memory, aside from the fact that Christmas Eve mass forced me to miss the Steelers-Broncos playoff game, was a Chicago Bears helmet. Just after Thanksgiving in ‘77 we moved from the suburbs of Pittsburgh to the suburbs of Chicago. For Christmas, my folks got me a Chicago Bears football helmet. It looked like the real freaking thing! It had the double bar gray facemask! For 1977 this was pretty damn amazing. Authenticity was not a priority for the NFL’s licensed merchandisers back then. Regardless, the freaking helmet was too small for my 7 year-old head so my folks concocted this story, which seems completely reasonable now, about how they’d get Santa to switch it for one that fit. Yeah, never happened. Now I realize this was 34 years ago and I should just let it go. But I was 7 and an authentic looking football helmet was a big damn deal to me.
Two years later, Christmas rolls around I got these:
The shoes not the jeans. So it was a good year. By the way, looking at these old Christmas catalogs is awesome. Google “1979 Sears Christmas Catalog” and go to the flickr site. Stuff is gold! Gold I tell you! But they own these pics so don’t mistake them for mine.
Sixth grade Christmas was 1981. It’s a little hazy but I’m almost certain that was the year Santa brought me a Rubik’s Cube. Man, otherwise, I’m drawing a blank on ’81. It might have been the year Santa brought “Dungeon” the boardgame. Which, and I’m just spitballin’ here, is the less dorky version of D&D. Still pretty darn dorky however. Didn’t stop us from playing though.
Regardless, what I remember most about Christmas and Christmas vacation in ’81 was watching the end of the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s night. Less than a minute to go, 4th down from Georgia’s 33 and Marino hits John Brown down the middle of the field for the TD. Pitt wins. I learned a lesson that day. The lesson? My Mom has good instincts. I was watching the game and my Mom was on the other couch in the family room with me. When it was 4th down, I was so discouraged that I changed the channel. Pitt had already blown the national championship earlier by not only losing to Penn State but getting blown out at home on the last weekend of the season. So I was totally bracing for disappointment. So my Mom asks if I was sure I wanted to turn the game off. I flip the channel. A couple minutes later, I flipped back and learned I missed it. I missed it! And that, my friends, is why you never, never, never, turn a football game off involving one of your teams. Of course, I find it hard to turn off any football game, but that’s not really my point…