Being born and raised in the fourteenth "admitted"
state, at least in the 1940's through the 50's
absolutely guaranteed you a cold and snowy holiday
On the morning after a fresh nighttime snowfall it
was your duty; actually, a moral obligation, as the
first kid to arrive at the empty neighborhood ball
field lot to create the circle and bisecting lines
that were used for the daily game of "fox and geese."
For the uninitiated, this was a wintertime version of
"tag - you're it;" but, you were restricted to running
only around the circle and across the lines.
Making "snow angels" was another favorite pastime; but,
not for the mom's of the neighborhood! Upon re-entry to
the house, you were met with the strictly enforced
admonitions - "Take off those wet clothes -hang them on
the radiator - knock the snow off those boots - you'll
catch your death of cold." Subconsciously, that may be
one of the reasons that I migrated South in later life -
wasn't about to let any "death by cold" be my final
The day after Christmas was reserved for playing with
and/or bragging about all the presents Santa brought to
your house and maybe left under gram and gramps tree, at
their house as well, with your name on it. Never did figure
out why Santa left unwrapped presents at my house and always
wrapped ones, with our names on them, at gram and gramps!
Memory fades; but, I think it was the day after
Christmas - about 1948, that "Teddy" was linked
to this day and in my minds eye forever.
I don't remember his last name, only that he was
about two years older then me, taller by a head
and what would be best described then as chubby.
He was absolutely the happiest kid I ever knew.
Always smiling and never complained; whether
someone called him "fatso" or said he couldn't
play ball cause he was too slow or any of the
myriad cruel tricks foisted on kids of his stature.
Several of us were playing on the snow covered ball
field next to my house when Teddy came ambling up,
that perpetual smile locked on his face, wearing
what could only be described as a lightweight ball
jacket, scarf around his neck; but, no hat or gloves.
In other words; his usual mid-winter attire.
Insulated as we were in those times, not only from
the cold; but, from the knowledge that many "Teddy's"
were much less fortunate then we, I asked him, "Aren't
you cold Teddy?
"Naw," he said, "I just came from the house."
As we were in the midst of comparing our Christmas
loot, one of the other kids asked, "Teddy - what
did you get for Christmas?"
His indefatigable smile brightening even more, Teddy
said, "A pair of gloves, socks and an orange."
Laughter immediately rang out and the kidding started
in earnest; but, Teddy - smiling as always - insisted
that the aforementioned presents were the sum total
of his Christmas gifts.
I didn't join in the laughter - I didn't question
the truthfulness of what he said - I was stunned
and suddenly feeling very guilty. How could anyone
receive those few simple gifts and be so happy
I wanted to cry; but, when you're a grown up eight
year old that kind of reaction was reserved for
falling off your bike, getting hit with a baseball
or some other typical heroic deed.
The gang soon departed for other daily pursuits and
I went into the house and told my mom about Teddy.
She explained to me that everybody doesn't always
get what they want - that sometimes it's the littlest
of presents or kindnesses that make you happiest - and
especially, at this time of year, giving could make
you feel better then receiving.
I went to the living room, picked one of my presents
from under the tree, went out and gave it to Teddy.
I told him it was left at my house by mistake.
Never saw Teddy much after that Christmas. Think
his family moved soon after the holidays.
I often think of Teddy at Christmastime - can
still see that wonderful smile on his face.
Learned a whole lot more, that day after my eighth
Christmas, then I knew at the time.
Never forgot that day - never will. ~ Richard Taylor, (Grn Mt Man)