With the season upon us, I started thinking of some of my Christmas memories that weren’t so pleasant.
I had an aunt who had no children, and since the selection for a Godmother had been predetermined, I was given her name as a middle name. For her, this was close enough. Without kids of her own, I was the next best thing. When Christmas arrived, I was treated to the sight of a new bicycle. A bike wasn’t even on my wish list, so this was a wonderful surprise.
My cousin, Raymond, took me to a location with no traffic and let me ride until I became steady on my bike. I had pushed the bike to the practice location, but I rode home. Everybody knows it doesn’t take a kid long to find a reason to show off, and I was no different. Approaching a curb, I cranked that bike to top speed and pulled up on the handle bars to jump the curb. My timing was a bit off, and instead of jumping the curb, I crashed. The bike stopped abruptly but I kept going. Not only did I ruin the front wheel of my new bike, I sported a face that looked like a catcher’s mitt the rest of the Holidays.
Years later, I harvested another memory coming home from high school for Christmas break. I was in a pouty mood because, while the rest of the kids had already departed for home, the basketball players had to remain behind to play a game. This was especially harsh for me because school was in Rhode Island and I lived in D.C. In those days the econo ride trains stopped everywhere you could put a platform, so a train ride home was good for another wasted day.
Since the Thanksgiving weekend was too short for me to come home, I was at the mercy of one of the local guys to have me as a guest. Just as I was in the mood to “Get over it,” I was in another crash. I suffered a leg injury and was put in a cast. The thought of being encumbered with this cast the whole holiday was horrible. I had a seven hour train ride with my leg stuck out in the aisle. Everybody traveling home after an office party staggered down that aisle and bumped my leg. I attended an all-boys school, and when I finally found myself in the company of some girls, I couldn’t dance a dance.
If you are wondering why I didn’t fly home, you hadn’t been introduced to my Mom. My Mom could make a buffalo jump off of a nickel. Since she was handling the purse strings, I knew I had no shot; this lady was tighter than Dick’s hatband.
Fast-forward to my days with Uncle Sam. It was approaching Christmas and a buddy of mine suggested we drive to Philadelphia and hang out with some ladies we knew. Coming back to our base in N.J., I was driving. I had the hammer down until I noticed this red light flashing behind me. Being an out-of-towner, the fine was due immediately. I had some money sent to the police station, and since my buddy had already gone on to the base, I was left to make it as best I could.
After about an hour into my trip, it started to snow. I was totally drenched when a big rig stopped to pick me up. This driver wound that sucker up and I forgot I was wet because I was busy trying not to pee on myself. I spent the holidays in the company of a box of tissues.
Stationed in Japan, we were tasked to fly escort with the weather recon bombers. One Christmas eve, we had a mission to fly Typhoon recon and wandered off the coast of Vladivostok, Russia. When we broke free of the storm, there was a welcoming committee. With the help of God, I managed to dodge another Christmas Ghost. Merry Christmas!