MY LOUSY WORLD: Remembering a real Christmas

Posted 12/23/10

Again this year, the D. Blough Roofing company party was held in a phone booth. Nah, actually it took place on my couch in front of the blaring TV where my dogs and I exchanged white elephant gifts. One of my cats left a hair-ball pile near the …

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MY LOUSY WORLD: Remembering a real Christmas


Well, it’s that time of year again. You know, that time when every column begins with, “Well, it’s that time of year again.” And every chance meeting in a store begins with, “So, have you got all your Christmas shopping done yet?”

I normally reply, “Why do you ask? Oh, is it that time of year again?”

Again this year, the D. Blough Roofing company party was held in a phone booth. Nah, actually it took place on my couch in front of the blaring TV where my dogs and I exchanged white elephant gifts. One of my cats left a hair-ball pile near the stove, and I laughed and said, “Same ol’ gag gift again this year, I see.”

As an elderly, long-haired, bachelor shut-in with no kids, it’s Christmases of the past I warmly recall once nestled in my bed on Christmas Eve.

Oh, how I loved the childhood Pennsylvania Christmases with the tips of our giant, front-yard white birch trees bent reverently, nearly to the ground from the weight of our heavy, wet snowstorms.

And those wonderful, new-toy-smell gifts. That was in the day when a kid got just a few, inexpensive presents that I suspect were appreciated much more than the dozens of pricey, indulgent gifts today’s typical toddler tallies.

I remember nearly all my Christmas presents as a child, and most of my favorites consisted of guns, badges and spurs. I’m sure the townsfolk predicted little Dougy would one day ride in rodeos and have a home filled with big-game trophies. Never once did I ask Santa for a cloth nail-apron with a plastic hammer and rubber nails.

Nope, I was loaded for bear.

I fondly remember a plastic, double-barreled dart shotgun and a battery-operated foot-high bear. That menacing beast would scamper in a beeline across the attic floor as I took aim from as far away as 20 feet. When my rubber-tipped dart hit its mark, which it did more times than not, that bear would roar ferociously, spin completely around and speed towards the opposite wall. That griz was hard to bring down.

I hunted my share of laying hens too. On another Christmas, I got a pistol dart gun that came with a big, tin chicken that pooped ping-pong ball eggs when a dart found its bulls-eye mark. Oh the elation of seeing those eggs bounce across the floor, knowing I’d bagged yet another elusive attic hen.

The plastic “horse-head-on-a-stick” was another classic I received on several Christmases. Wearing my new cowboy hat cinched tight under my chin, with six-shooter cap guns strapped to each hip, I’d gallop down our dirt road like a Matt Dillon with buck teeth and bangs. Nobody could make that wood stick clatter hoof-like on the road like I could.

A rubber, air-filled punching bag with a clown’s face was my favorite when I was about 10. With the power of a lumberjack, I’d put a smack-down on that clown, only to watch it amazingly return to its rubber feet for more punishment. I have that gift to thank for developing my devastating punching power as an adult. Few rubber clowns would return to their feet today after getting smacked with my best shot.

The plastic bowling set I got when I was about 12 brought me and my sisters incalculable joy. It included a diagram-mat for proper placement of the bowling pins, which we set up in the dining room in front of the china cabinet.

The hallway from the kitchen provided the perfect alley, and we started our approach from the kitchen sink and released at the refrigerator. We had never bowled for real before, so it sure felt real. The only thing we didn’t have to make the sport more authentic was plastic bottles of beer.

Ah, but the kids today. They could never appreciate the innocent fun of inexpensive toys such as those. Rather than dart, cap and pop guns, they’re barely out of diapers when they’re given BB guns to shoot the neighbor’s real chickens. You can put an eye out with those things.

Sure, I often shot darts from close range at my sister’s foreheads, where they’d hysterically stick, but no one got seriously hurt.

If you gave today’s lad an inflated rubber clown to punch, he’d shoot the air out of it with his pellet gun before ordering you to drive him to his Taekwondo class.

Give little Johnny a horse-on-a-stick and he’d fling it over a cliff while riding the real horse he got for his 6th birthday.

A plastic bowling set? Are you kidding me? Most kids today already own their own bowling alleys by the time they’re 12.

OK, now I’m getting a little carried away with my hypothesis, but you know what I’m trying to say. Yes, you bet I got gypped at Christmastime as a kid!