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James R. Stout

Christmas Memories - Part 2

            1972 – This was my favorite Christmas of the 70’s. In fact, it is my favorite Christmas of so far NOT counting my childhood years of 0-12. There are many reasons it was such a special Christmas. For one thing, I had just started dating the girl that would be my “high-school sweetheart”. That in itself made for a wonderful and exciting time. We also enjoyed one of only two Christmas’s in my life in which we had my cousins from my Dad’s brother’s family visit. My cousin Mark and I were about the same age and we had a great time leading up to Christmas Day. They went back home before Christmas Day, but we had a great time with them leading up to Christmas. Looking back on things, I kind of feel like I was a stalker of sorts! Not really, but I was so smitten with my new love that my cousin Mark and I drove past her house at least half a dozen times. She and her family weren’t home for Christmas, so there was no chance I would be seen. It was a good thing in a way because they lived on a cul de sac. It would have proven awkward had they been home and happened to be outside! I just wanted to see the house that she lived in! I remember some great songs that were hits during that Christmas season. “Do It Again” by Steeley Dan, “Hi Hi Hi” by Paul McCartney and Wings, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, “Your Mama Don’t Dance” by Loggins and Messina and “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John come to mind. I remember driving around in my mother’s 1967 Chevrolet Nova with the AM radio blasting out these tunes, Christmas lights everywhere, and the sheer joy of feeling 17. For Christmas that year I received a new wristwatch, my favorite cologne “Wild Country”, and a Remington “Hot Comb” which was great for my long hair. It was that Christmas that I first became known in my family for giving presents that were “different”. I gave my mother a huge candle housed in an actual 12” diameter piece of a tree including the bark still on it. She was not at all sure what to think. My sister had gotten on a decorating kick with frogs. Their guest bathroom had every kind of frog related thing you could imagine. I was at a flea market and antique mall in Houston one day and found the perfect gift for Debbie and Don. It was a huge ceramic frog. It would fit perfect on top of the commode in the bathroom. It was painted green and sported a grin. However, she refused to put it on the commode because someone said it felt like they were being watched while answering nature’s call. It ended up on a table on the other side of the sink. Christmas 1972 was a great Christmas and then some.

                                          

 

            1975 – This was another great Christmas. I was 20-years-old at the time. I honestly couldn’t tell you what gifts that I may have received. Giving gifts had become more fun by then. I had been dating the girl that I would end-up marrying a year later. We had been dating for about 5 months. I gave her a life-sized Saint Bernard that included a barrel around its neck that was also a piggy bank. I must admit that I was a tad on the embarrassed side walking from the toy store to my car. Why? Because the store was inside Memorial City Mall and it meant I had to walk through the mall carrying this huge stuffed animal. There were a few snickers along the way, but it was worth it. My sisters and I gave my parents a very nice slide projector. I still have it now and it still works. All of our wedding pictures were taken with slide film and Mom and Dad wanted to be able to see them. For several Christmas’s after that slide film was used for special occasions. I was working part-time at K-mart in the photo department at the time and I got the slide projector with a small discount. It was a great Christmas and life hadn’t taken any left turns yet.

 

                                 

 

            1978 – This Christmas was the first Christmas for my nephew Stephen. He was the first of my parent’s four grandchildren. He didn’t have a clue what was going on given he was only 5 months old, but the adults all enjoyed having a child at Christmas. I had been married for over two years by then which meant that we had to share Christmas at two places instead of one. The good news was that my family had a tradition of Christmas Eve being the big event. A Christmas feast with cousins and aunts and uncles, watching “White Christmas” together, and the opening of Christmas presents were all highlights. My wife’s family had a tradition of doing all of that on Christmas Day. So, it meant there wasn’t any problem with scheduling. Probably the best part of that Christmas was a very simple thing. We left my parent’s house on Christmas Eve after the presents were opened. It was about 11 o’clock. We had decided to drive up to her parent’s home near Somerville, Texas so that we could be there for Christmas morning. My wife was very tired and quickly fell asleep as I drove through the dark. I had the radio playing softly and listened to classic Christmas music including “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “White Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and a new Christmas song that has now become a classic by The Eagles. It was actually a cover of a 1950’s record but done only the way The Eagles could do it. Christmas just isn’t Christmas to me now without hearing “Please Come Home For Christmas”. As I drove around the newly constructed loop that bypassed downtown Brenham, Texas my eyes were drawn to a beautiful sight. It was the Washington County Courthouse decked out in Christmas lights. It was visible for several miles. I thought about waking Patti up so that she could enjoy the sight but decided not to disturb her slumber. It’s a solitary memory for me.

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