Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Memories

I find it hard to understand why some people don’t like Christmas, or why some even go out of their way to criticize or even attack it. I have wonderful memories of Christmas and for me it is hard to imagine what life would have been like without Christmas. It is true that most of these memories have been blurred together by the passage of time—trimming the tree on Christmas eve, children around the tree opening presents on Christmas day, and sitting down with the whole family for Christmas dinner.

Some memories do stand out. Just a couple of years ago I went to Victoria’s Secret to buy a pair of pajamas for my wife only to be told that the sale price included two pairs of panties that I would have to pick out. Going back further, I remember standing in a mall after my first year as a struggling mutual fund and insurance salesman and calling my office (there were no cell phones then) to see if my commission check would be large enough to buy presents for my wife and five small children. It was.

Going back to my own childhood, I remember my grandmother and grandfather making zeppoles and other Italian pastries in their tiny kitchen. Never mind granite countertops, their old kitchen had no countertops at all. The kitchen table and the stove top somehow managed for the task of working the dough before dropping it into the boiling oil to cook the delicious Christmas confections.

 However, one memory stands out above all the others. My wife and I had moved to Connecticut so that I could take a teaching position in a small college in Fairfield.  My first year's salary was about $6000. With the help of a down payment from my dad, we bought a small house back in 1967 after the birth of our second child. Two years later on Christmas eve both of our boys had an attack of asthmatic bronchitis. This had happened before but our usual remedy of taking them into the bathroom, turning on the hot water in the shower, and making the room into a steam room did not work this time.

With reluctance we called our pediatrician on the night before Christmas. He volunteered to come to the house. House calls were not unusual in those days but it was Christmas eve and he was a young man with a family of his own. Still, he came and stayed and ministered to the boys for what seemed like hours. Finally, he recommended that we take the youngest to the hospital. A wonderful neighbor volunteered to baby sit for us and we drove to the hospital where my wife spent the evening with little Edward.

Next day all was well and mother and child returned home. We can never forget Dr. Cahill for what he did that night. To top it all off, he refused to bill us precisely because it was Christmas.

Happy 51st birthday to Ed and Merry Christmas to all.


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