By Craig Hastings
It’s Christmastime, and this means interior and exterior decorations for some of us. Over the last eleven years in this column I’ve shared a few of the moments that moved me and took me back to my childhood this time of year. I tell you things in this column I could never say to anyone standing before me. Not that anything I have to say is so secretive or special; I just don’t communicate well when it’s about me. However, it’s easy for me to sit here in the dark at 1 a.m. while listening to R&B music to open up a bit.
I’m a dinosaur of sorts when it comes to decorating for Christmas. I’m old enough that I probably should have let go of this seasonal tradition of lighting Santa’s way to my house years ago. My boys are 16 and 14 and don’t care much anymore. Sure, the first week or so they both think it’s kinda cool but the moment fades to ho hum well before Christmas. I’ve had my interior décor placed and lit since Thanksgiving. I’ve had a few moments with the boys since Thanksgiving though. Lukas turned one of the trains on a few nights ago and asked me to come to the living room and sit for a while.
We talked about one of the trains sitting on a side spur and just on display for the moment. It’s the very train my mother gave; oops, Santa gave to me when I was 7 years old. It’s a Marx train set that was offered to the public in the S&H Greens Stamps Christmas catalog in 1964. Yeah I’m that old. I guess Santa saved these stamps back in the day just so some of us kids that just had to have the S&H Stamps model could have it. Lukas also asked me where the “really old” little train was. This is the train I was fortunate enough to acquire from resident Robert Kellogg a few years back. I’ve talked about it here before. Anyway, yes, yes, this little train will be exercised this Christmas under my tree again and all Christmases that follow my living and ability to set it up. Thanks again Bob, I really enjoy this one.
Lukas and I sat and reminisced for about an hour, it was a memorable moment for me, but, at least for now, one he probably won’t. I pray 30 years from now this night will come calling on him to remember his dad just as I do each Christmas thinking of my own dad. Christmas joy struck twice. Two days later I again was sitting in the living room just staring into the tree at the lights, the trains, and all the other lit and unlit Christmas décor I set out each year here at home since 1994 when Payton walked into the room. He was at my home this evening with his girlfriend Sophie.
A train was slowly moving around the room, and Payton had decided to sit a while and talk Christmas with me. A “Golden” moment for me, but to him probably just another nothing special moment for now. My 16-year-old son, who sometimes thinks he’s 21, was sitting on the floor cross-legged talking Christmas past with me. Better yet, his girlfriend had joined us to listen to us talk about the way it used to be here at 63 Cherry Drive the same place he and his brother were conceived, born, and raised for 15 Christmases.
Payton and Lukas don’t understand yet just how important this house is to me, and it’s because of the both of them that it is. One day I hope they will do as I do…remember things that happened here on special occasions as well as just everyday moments that stuck somewhere on the back of their brains. These moments are hidden away right now in their teen years and waiting, waiting to be triggered by one of their own Christmas moments 30 years from now. Then they will understand why their nutty dad back in 2017 sat in the living room and stared at the Christmas tree every year…by himself, for hours.
Have I told about my Christmas tree ornament collection I’ve gathered over the past 25 years? Even if I have, have I told you how I look at each one, each year, and remember the hows and whys of all? I’m going to. At the end of that story I’ll ask you if I should seek counseling, because I’m 60 years old and still carrying on at Christmas like I’m a new father with my first newborn in the next room. Truth is…I’d be doing this without any children of my own. I’ll tell you why next week.