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Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
My mom and dad got divorced when I was two.

Before you start thinking this is going to be one of “those” columns, let me assure you it’s not a plea for sympathy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a celebration of my growing up a product of two very different, slightly dysfunctional yet loving families. My stepdad is one of my best friends to this day, even though he and my mom divorced twenty-five years ago. My biological dad, on the other hand, gave it three tries before deciding that marrying might not be in the cards. His third wife, Georgia, gave us the absolute shining light of my dad’s life, my sister Roni, whose passing this spring still sits like a stone in my soul. All of this is my way of saying that I may not have had a “leave it to beaver” upbringing, but I was loved and given many blessings from both of my families.

Which leads us to the topic of this week’s rambling prose, Christmas, or to be precise, “Two Christmases!” as my oldest son used to gleefully proclaim when he heard his mother and I in a spat. He’s such a smart aleck. No idea where he got that trait. 

Growing up, I would wake up at my mom’s house on Christmas morning and open presents before my dad would pick me up and take me to either my Grandpa & Grandma’s or to my Uncle Don and Aunt Sharon’s house in Bement. On occasion, my mom’s family would go to my grandparent’s house in Atwood before I made it to Bement. That’s right. Three Christmases! My cousins would all be there, and it would be a big, raucous affair, filled with love, laughter and the kind of food that only a southern raised cook like my grandma could prepare. I swear, Leota Grayhem could make a pine log taste like Chateaubriand. Great memories. 

After I got married, the dynamic changed, of course. Now we had Mrs. HLS’s family to consider, and then once the kids came, she put her foot down and said our nomadic Christmas days were over. We would be at the Hooker mansion, we would go to Christmas Eve mass, and then we would go home and open presents, and anyone and everyone who wanted could visit us there, end of discussion. 

Now, with the offspring pairing up with partners of their own, I feel the dynamic changing once again. For so long, the kids’ anticipation of gift opening served as a great motivator for good behavior in church. Now, I’m not sure who is even going to be home for Christmas, let alone when. 

The one thing, to me that is a change for the worse is the inclusion of Amazon lists into the shopping equation. On the one hand, it seems so mercenary, just buying off a list rather than buying things from the heart. It’s completely taken the surprise and wonder out of the enterprise. 

On the other hand, it’s made shopping incredibly easy. Just click and go. This has eliminated at least one Hooker family tradition…the one where Mrs. HLS and I go on a fevered shopping spree, flitting from one store to another and back again, in search of the perfect gift, for hours, until we finally get on each other’s nerves to the point where lunch at Penn Station Subs is consumed in brooding silence, with an occasional glare thrown in for good measure. So maybe this online shopping thing isn’t too bad. It has led to a bit more peace on earth, at least here in Hookerville.

Mascot Bowl game challenge record 3-7. I guess my non-scientific method isn’t putting Vegas in any danger of going broke, any time soon.

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