Sunday, December 14, 2008 @10:10:47 PM
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.