Here’s something based on a piece I found in my journal, written on some past Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve . . . I think of 1970, and of the unnumbered year in the 60s when we were hit by a blizzard so bad that Grandpa Art and Grandma Vera couldn’t even get back to their house on the other end of the farm, and they had to stay over with us. I think of the year in which we drove several hours home from someplace on Christmas Eve and couldn’t find an open convenience store the whole way. I think of the year we got home from our new office jobs at 3:00 on Christmas Eve, with no radio station to work at or retail store to manage, and we looked at each other not quite knowing what we were supposed to do.
I think of the year when I discovered entirely by accident on the 23rd that I was scheduled to work on the radio from 7 to midnight Christmas Eve—the program director had bothered neither to ask me if I could nor tell me that I was scheduled—in addition to a noon-to-6 on Christmas Day. So Ann went to Monroe without me, and it remains the only Christmas I didn’t spend at least part of with my family. I think of a quick trip to Toronto, in 1991, when my in-laws lived there and Ann’s father sent us plane tickets, a trip I desperately did not want to make and bitched about for days beforehand. We flew home on Christmas Day, and I looked back from the jetway and got what was my last glimpse of Ann’s mother, who died the next spring.
I think of the year we drove all day Christmas Eve to visit Ann’s brother and his family, arriving just in time to sit down to a massive Christmas dinner. I think of going to church and wondering why nobody else seemed to hear how awful the music was, and of a night when our nephews were very young and they devoured their presents with a ravenousness that was almost sexual, mouths open, panting with anticipation, churning through each one without even looking at the tag to see who it was from. But I also think of another year when we gave all of them Packers gear, and how thrilled they were to put it on and pile on our laps for a picture. And I think of my own family in these later years, where the Christmas rule is come when you can and stay as long as you like, because we’ll never run out of desserts.
And now, here we are, on Christmas Eve once again. This day isn’t fired with magic like it used to be, but to a man of my age, practically nothing is. Santa doesn’t need a letter from me; I no longer want or wish for material things. If I can be on the radio on Christmas Eve, as I am this morning, I am grateful for another chance to close the circle and anchor myself in time. I want time to write, because I’m a writer as much as I’m a radio jock. But what I want most of all on this day is quiet. I am not a believer in the reason for the season, but reflection on being part of a family—not just my own family, but the human family—can be an uplifting experience even for a scoffer. One thing at which I do not scoff, however, is the friendship of each of you reading this blog, whether I know you in the real world, or we’ve interacted in some electronic fashion, or you simply visit this place to read whatever I’ve yakked up on a given day. After all these years, I remain grateful for and humbled by your attention and interest.
(Programming note: if you click the link in the first line of this post, you’ll be taken to a 2007 post that contains two re-upped segments of the WLS Holiday Festival of Music, if you’re into that kind of thing. Merry Christmas to all.)