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The Best Christmas Ever

Sunday, December 14, 2008

For me, my best Christmas ever was when I was about 12.  I had my Cleburne Times-Review paper route and I'd saved up enough that I bought myself a used gold Schwinn Stingray bicycle with the banana seat.  I rode a route that was about 5 - 6 miles long in all kinds of weather.  It ran up hill and down, alongside Highway 67 where the trucks used to blow me into the ditch.  I also had to do an extra leg down to the post office to pick up the papers and bring them home to my younger brother and sister.  We all folded them and split them up.  I had the longest, most challenging route. 

I made an obscene amount of money for a 12 year old - about $5 per week.  I spent about 20 hours a week running that route.  Worked out to about 25 cents an hour.

That Christmas, I saved up for about 4 weeks to scrape together $20.  I used it to buy some small gifts for my folks and my brother and sister.  Wasn't very much.  I don't even remember what I got them, but there was a present from me for everyone under the tree that year.

When you first have that chance to give something to others; something you made with your own hands or bought with money you earned, your life changes.  You're not a dependent kid any more.  You feel like you've joined that mysterious club of "grown ups" who know the truth about Santa Clause and the tooth fairy and who look out for those who are weaker or smaller than they are.

I remember King Arthur was my favorite fictional character (him and Captain Blood).  The two of them had one thing in common.  They both believed that the strong should do what is right because it is right. 

I used to get picked on in school.  We had a lot of bullies in my school - the kind of guys that were a couple of grades behind and none too happy about it.  I used to dream about getting bigger and coming back one day and standing up to those guys.  At the time I was only about 85 pounds sopping wet.  I had powerful legs, though.

All that bike riding.  I cut shortcut trails through pastures and wooded areas.  I invented bicycle motocross clear back in 1966.  I was the only kid with a parachute on my bicycle (in case I had to land on a short runway I guess - I don't remember the rationale, only that it was cool). 

And on that Christmas Eve in 1966, I had no trouble falling asleep as I had every year before that.  This year, I was Santa Claus.

It's a very satisfying thing to be Santa.  You sleep like a baby on Christmas Eve. 5 comments

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Playing Since: 1973
Experience Level: Novice

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Occupation: Freelance Writer, nonprofit consultant & grant writer

Gender: Male
Age: 66

My Instruments:
Squared Eel custom banjo, Goya classical guitar

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Clancy Brothers, Earl Scruggs, Steve Martin, Connie Dover, Emmy Lou and anyone, Willie Nelson and anyone, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Gordon Lightfoot, Alison Kraus, Nickel Creek, Joe Bethancourt

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Visible to: Public
Created 6/26/2007
Last Visit 5/16/2020

I grew up in the small Seventh-day Adventist college town of Keene, Texas where I graduated in 1976 with a degree in English-Communications. I married a Scots-Irish-Indian woman from Monroe, Louisiana and raised three children and some cats and dogs, birds and fish. I’ve taught school, taught swimming, canoeing and sailing, knot tying, camping and astronomy for kids. I’ve water skied on canoe paddles, assorted bits of lumber and my elbows. I have a couple of canoes and a catamaran, 3 guitars, two banjos, a dulcimer, a mandolin, a fiddle, 2 recorders, a penny whistle, fife, a bag of harmonicas, a bodhrain, pair of bones and a jaw harp or two – all of which I play badly. I’ve helped start up 6 nonprofit organizations in 25 years and raised millions of dollars none of which ever managed to stick to my bank account. I’ve won awards for documentary screen-writing, published poetry and short stories and a book on how to organize a charity golf tournament. I was appointed to a two year term on the Public Transportation Advisory Committee for the Great State of Texas by the Governor and I work as an advocate for seniors, people with disabilities and low income families. I’m a Reagan conservative, which puzzles my fellow advocates, who think I should spontaneously combust from the sheer incongruity. On the other hand, I’ve taught them to speak Republican which has improved their rate of success with the state legislature. I am currently raising funds to expand Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge here in East Texas. My advocacy work includes children’s issues, expanding public transportation, creating barrier free housing and promoting community wide accessibility standards that allow transportation challenged Texans to fully participate in their communities. I have three grandchildren, a son and daughter-in-law, my beautiful daughter and her new husband and we live on beautiful Lake Palestine near Tyler, Texas. My middle son, an amazing young man, passed away more than a year ago while finishing his senior year at UT Tyler. He was going to be a teacher. Since I wrote this, we moved away from the lake, lost almost everything and moved to Puyallup, Washington to live with my wife's sister and brother-in-law. In the midst of a recession and massive unemployment, it seemed to be the thing to do. We've cut our expenses drastically and I'm able to work on finishing up the books I have been working on.

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