Christmas revives thoughts of childhood

By Ryn Gargulinski: Local Columnist

Here we are on the brink of the big day — the day families and churches and people who sell honey-baked hams have all been waiting for.

No matter how the holidays go down this year, we will always be stuffed with memories of Christmas pasts — not unlike cream-filled yule logs or Uncle Chester after too much honey-baked ham.

We all may have a Santa sack full of fine holiday memories and, since ‘tis the season for sharing, here come some of mine:

• Not being able to sleep: Although this is a horrid state once we reach adulthood, one associated with withdrawal, anger or too much caffeine after 5 p.m., being too excited to sleep as a child is a magical thing. The tick tock tinkering of the clock … the dark that slicks shadows on your wall and phantom fingers from the closet … waking your little brother at 3 a.m. to come with you to see if the gifts got there yet. Although this was a glorious annual recollection of mine own, I highly doubt my brother gazes back with equal fondness, especially since I one time roused him from his sleep by accidentally punching him in the face with a monkey puppet.

• Something about a tricycle: Although this remains hazy in my mind, I do recall being at least told I rode this shiny new bike — most likely equipped with a shiny new bell — all around the Christmas tree, not unlike a Lionel train. I may have fallen asleep on the thing as, like my childhood rocking horse I rocked right off its springs, it was something with which I bonded.

• My brother’s lack of tact: Although my brother has since grown big, tall and professional, one of his childhood holiday antics sticks out like a thorn on mistletoe (if mistletoe has thorns). My younger sibling and I had been teasing each other for months every time we saw this popcorn popper game advertised on TV. We’d guffaw how stupid it was and how ugly and yellow and how “I hope you get it” … “no, I hope YOU get it for Christmas.”

My aunt arrives with a big wrapped box for my brother.
He unwraps it to find the popcorn game.

With nary a blink he looks her straight-on and says, “It’s just what I never wanted.”

That may have been the same year she got me a heavy iron old-fashioned typewriter.

• The heavy iron old-fashioned typewriter: Yes, a gift that screamed my fate, if a heavy iron old-fashioned typewriter could scream. It made me know I was destined to be a writer. (It probably knew I was destined to take typing in high school, too.)

• Looking for the presents: Searching for gifts before the big day is almost as fun as getting the presents on the day itself. It may be even more enjoyable since you are up to something you’re not supposed to be doing. Although I do not have a singular memory of rifling through the basement, my parents’ closet and underneath beds, I do have many plural ones. I also recall finding some things that were perhaps a lot more interesting than the gifts themselves.

Of course, the holidays are not always a bowl of chocolate-covered cherries. Some seasonal memories are perhaps a tad less pleasant, like a stocking stuffed with coal. One memory dashes forth like a reindeer in my mind (although I got over it with the next big box with a bow on it).

• Realizing Santa had the same handwriting as my dad: Yes, it was a cold day in Michigan when I took a magnifying glass to St. Nick’s thank-you-for-the-soy-milk-and-organic-cookies letter and saw it was the same block caps my dad used. I remained in denial over this one for as long as I could. Or at least until my cousin Andre told me I was wrong. Santa didn’t have the same handwriting as my dad; he had the same handwriting as my aunt.

Merry Christmas — in every penmanship.

Ryn Gargulinski writes for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. Contact her at 505-461-1952 or by e-mail: