Mr. Scrooge had it right, kind of. Some parts of Christmas are for the birds and I join him in disliking many things about it.
As I spend my third day in captivity due to the winter storm, I begin to contemplate too many things. I have eaten too much, watched too much football (if that’s possible) and even tried to rekindle my interest in reading books. I think I might be delusional and having some slight hallucinations.
As I approach celebrating my 61st Christmas, much of the magic seems out of reach to me. As you read last week, the whole Black Friday thing takes the wind out of my sails and makes me want a “dip of snuff,” as my dad used to say. Add in television —particularly the attempts by the morning show robots to try to warm you up for the great traditions — and I turn more cynical.
I think most gift giving is from a sense of obligation and guilt, not so much as an expression of love or friendship. I have spent the last several days shopping on line at Amazon and have approached it purely in a systematic fashion, not from a sense of “they will love that.” I just want to check it off my list and be done with it.
I was remembering fondly my days of growing up in Fordyce and hanging out at my dad’s drug store. The Otasco (Oklahoma Tire and Supply) store was just up the street and almost up the street from my house was the equally wonderful Western Auto. Sadly, neither of those stores exists.
I got my first (or one of my first) bicycle from Western Auto. It was red and had a banana seat. It was under the tree when I got up to preview everything before everyone else got up. You had to wait till everyone got up to touch anything. But I looked and imagined me riding that red beauty.
The smell of rubber, spruce and the array of gifts that were displayed each year at Western Auto and Otasco around Christmas were intoxicating. Remember, there was no Wal-Mart or Internet. These were our portals to the good stuff.
Of course, now I now know why everyone looked liked they were hung over on Christmas morning. They had stayed up too late putting things together and “doing Santa.” I have since been through many “set-ups and put- togethers,”
In my search through Amazon, it’s discouraging that so many things are technology-based and that my grandsons want mostly gadgets like an $800 video game system. Well, that ain’t gonna happen.
When I visit Toys R Us and Wal-Mart next week to finish up their gifts, I’ll wonder where the real toys are. It’s mostly plastic junk that won’t survive over two or three weeks.
There is one store that has pretty decent stuff: Learning Express of Little Rock, located in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center. Some of their toys are not made out of plastic and they still sell creative toys and games.
For those of you who have children and grandchildren who are going to buy you a gift, may I make a suggestion? Give each of them a written list of things you might want. If you don’t need anything, make a list of your favorite wines and tell them to pick any of them. If you don’t drink wine, make a list of books. At least you get a few things you will actually use.
Oh, I’ll come around. I’ll watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” and memories of the good old days will start to flash: Times when a stocking filled with “Sunkist” oranges, pecans and peppermint sticks would actually be a thrill.
The one thing I do love about Christmas is a spirit of giving that seems to come out each year. I personally will give to Feed Arkansas Kids and World Vision. And it’s also the last week you can give to the “Adopt-a-Vet” for the soldiers at Fort Roots. Contact First United Methodist Church in Maumelle for more information.
I’ll do what a lot of writers do over the next few weeks. I’ll take a look at the year from a rear-view mirror, talk about famous dead people and start thinking about the New Year. I may even throw in a little end-of-the-year panic in there since I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do about my health insurance on January 1. I’m one of those fortunate ones that was told your insurance is canceled, good luck to you.
See you on the Boulevard. Look for some magic. There’s bound to be some, somewhere.
Neal Moore is COE (chief of everything) at Neal Moore Creative, a PR, advertising and marketing consultancy. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. If you have a community concern contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.