Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Well, How Did That Get in There?

Every Christmas Eve, after the gifts had been opened, the meal had been consumed, and while the beverages were still being enjoyed (just ask Anne about that one), Dad would inform us that the slideshow was ready.

Every year, we'd sit around and watch Dad show us the same slides.  I, however, would rarely spot myself in any of them.  By the time I was growing up, Dad had transitioned to actual photos.  But I'm not bitter at the memory of sitting around, year after year, and being forced to look at these slides.  No, not bitter at all. :)

And every year, Waco slides were included.  Every.  Single.  Year.  And Dad would say the same thing, "Well, I wonder how that got in there?!"  He fell in love with Wacos at an early age.  When he was 8 or 9, he saved his pennies, nickels and dimes so he could go for a plane ride.  Grandpa Joe and Grandma Ada took him to Lunken, he poured the $3 in change into the pilot's hands, and climbed into the Waco.


If you know my dad, ask him about this the next time you see him.  Because the way he tells the story is magical.  I can't do it justice.

The particular Waco he flew in was where the passenger was in front of the pilot.  And the window and door folded out.  So, my dad was in this plane, the pilot was behind him, and this little 8 year old boy was LEANING OUT of the plane!  The only thing that held him in was his seatbelt.  He told me later that he didn't think his mother knew about that part of the deal (but Grandpa Joe did).  And Dad loved how the pilot landed the plane.  He remembered "slipping" into Lunken over the Ohio River.

Airplane Slipping

Of course Dad couldn't stop talking about his incredible adventure, and his 2 older brothers decided that they had to try it, too.  The next year, all 3 brothers went to Lunken and climbed into Wacos.  I love it that the little brother is the one who influenced his 2 older brothers.

Dad and 2 of his sisters at Lunken when he took his second ride in a Waco

Dad (in the center), his 2 older brothers, and 2 younger sisters at Alms Park.  This was the same day that all the boys took rides in Waco airplanes (Alms Park overlooks Lunken).

Dad tried to pass along his love of Wacos to his kids.  I don't think any of us bonded with them, however.  Sure, we'd go to the Waco Fly-Ins (as if we had a choice), we'd listen to his stories, but we never "felt the love" for the Waco like Dad did.  The poor man tried, though.

Yes, they have Waco Clubs

Waco Museum

And that included the Christmas Eve slide show.  We knew it was coming.  And he never disappointed.

Well, how did that get in there?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Christmas Sheet

This was one of the things that Sean had to accept and get used to when we got married and had kids.  Well, this and the fact that St. Nick is the one who fills the stockings and not Santa.

Santa's elves do not wrap our Christmas presents.  Not a single one.  The kids of the family pick out their "spot" on the couch or chair where they want the big guy to leave their presents.  A sheet is put up between the hallway and living/family room so that the kids can't peek and cheat.  And don't ask me why, but we never did.  I think Mom must have implied that lightening would strike us dead or something, but it was a line we never crossed.

The sheet was nailed up on Christmas Eve, and it was always very exciting.  You knew that the time was close (this was before you could track Santa's progress on the internet).  On Christmas morning, we would line up in our hallway on Cherokee Dr. from the youngest to oldest.  Obviously, I always scored on this front since I was the baby of the family.

I have heard the arguments (from Sean) concerning wrapping vs. not wrapping.  But none of those ever held water for me.  I can't articulate how magical it is to pull back that sheet and see your loot in one vision.  Santa was a master at maximizing the visual effect of this.  Your spot on the couch or chair was covered with gifts.  We saw everything in one glance and were overwhelmed with our luck.

Well, except for that one magical year when Santa confused my spot with Anne's, and disappointment was the first emotion we both felt as we thought we didn't a damn thing we had asked for.

One year, I asked (written on the note I left in my St. Nick's stocking which St. Nicholas personally delivered to Santa--that's another blog post) for both a Jaimie Sommers Bionic Woman doll AND a Cher doll.  Mom came to me a day or two later and told me that Santa's elves had informed her that I had to make a choice.  Which doll did I want more?  Because I couldn't have both.  I remember literally telling her that I'd have to think about it and would get back to her.  I think I even asked her if there was a time period I had to work within.

Now, imagine my face when I pulled back that sheet and saw my choice--the Jaimie Sommers Bionic Woman doll.  And it was placed next to the Cher doll!!!!!  I got both of them!  In one vision, I saw both of my prized gifts (yes, I realize I was a loser).  That magic couldn't and wouldn't have happened if I had to slowly unwrap the gifts.

The tradition continues with my children, and I hope they continue it with their kids.  It is exceptionally magical.  And honestly, Santa's elves save themselves A LOT of work with the wrapping.  It actually gives them time to have another beer.

Edited to add the story of one Christmas morning when Eric's childhood was destroyed.  From what I heard, Eric was the youngest and waiting anxiously to go through the sheet.  Dad and Mom went out first to make sure that everything was in order.  That particular year, Dad walked back through the sheet, looked at darling little Eric (who would've only been a few years old at the time) and said, "OK, Eric.  Are you ready?  The Easter Bunny came!"  Apparently, he burst into tears.  Yes, my family can be cruel.  But we're cute.

Eric and Anne in front the Sheet and running toward their stash!

Please notice the placement of the gifts on the chairs (and my Planet of the Apes board game)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Cling to My Few Memories of Her

When I started researching my family's history, I was surprised at the realization that I was only 4 years old when Grandma Ada died.  I thought I was a few years older than that because I had and have very specific memories of her.

Unfortunately, I don't know the Grandma Ada my sisters and brothers did.

"My" Grandma Ada lived in an apartment, and the toys were kept in a closet somewhere off the living room.  I remember rummaging around the closet and finding some fabulous toy.  She loved Oreos and Pepsi, and apple pie and whatever type of ice cream she had in the freezer.

I have 2 very clear memories of her.  The first is that she would always bring homemade baked bread with her when she visited us.  And on those visits, she would choose one of the grandkids to get a "special" small loaf of bread.  Once, I remember being the "chosen one," and it was if I was given gold.  The best part?  We didn't have to share it with any of our siblings.

I also remember standing behind her when she was making me a blanket.  It was a pink floral flannel material with pink ribbon on 2 sides and either green or yellow ribbon on the other 2 sides.  I distinctly remember watching her work at her sewing machine, trying to watch her over her shoulder and being so excited that this was mine.  It was soft, and it smelled good.  I had it for a very long time, and then I grew up and forgot about it.  I have no idea what happened to it but realized too late that it was priceless to me.  She was and is priceless to me.

Grandma Ada and me, 06 Aug 1969

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started

Grandma Elsie used to rotate where she would spend her holidays (which of her kids wanted her).  We were always excited when our number came up.  She lived in Covington, and we saw her all the time, but she'd stay with us for a few days (if it was our turn) on holidays.  I remember getting everything I needed to have mended ready for her.  I'm actually not sure why or how this started.  She wasn't known for her domestic skills, but she seemed happy to fix those socks or underwear for you.

One year (I don't remember which holiday it was) it was our turn to have her.  And I was given the responsibility and honor of getting her drink for her.  I remember giving it to her once she got settled in, she took a sip, looked at me and said, "Kid, let me show you how to make a drink."

She then took me into the kitchen to instruct me in this very important matter.  I tried to hand her the shot glass, but she waved it away.  "We don't use those."  She then poured herself a whiskey and water, took a sip, looked at me and said words which I now live by, "Kid, it's better to have one really good one than a bunch of bad ones."

She was a character in the best sense of the word.  And I miss her every day.