With the promise of warmer temperatures, I climbed out of bed a little less reluctantly this morning, grabbed my bathrobe and hurried to the thermostat. A child of the energy crisis of the 1970's, I still ascribe to my parents' 'dial-down-at-night' philosophy.
I lit the furnace (anyone remember those days), turned on the coffee pot ('coffee-maker' sounds so urban), fed the dog, and sat down at the computer to check my e-mail and facebook page ( so I'm not as discerning as I'd like to think I am when it comes to the 21st century).
A click later, I was listening to Frank Sinatra's beautifully simple ode to Christmas past, An Old Fashioned Christmas (click here to listen). The song was posted by a close friend, another refugee of the real-world (we both live, by choice, with one foot deeply rooted in another century).
Strangely, before Frank even warbled a word, I was overwhelmed with melancholy (I'm sure that wasn't my friend's intention). I contemplated moving on to a brighter post, when my melancholy took a nostalgic turn.
Somewhere between the first and second verse, I was no longer a groggy, fifty-something, sipping coffee before a cold computer screen, but a little girl, bundled in winter woolens, awaiting a pick-up from school on the last-day-before Christmas break (they actually called it 'Christmas-break' in those days).
I stood waiting, my book-bag stuffed with colored-paper-Christmas-decorations we'd cut and pasted together in days preceding.
One mitten-clad hand clutched a paper plate piled high with sugared cut-out cookies, and foil wrapped chocolate bells and santas (the room-mothers always made too much).
The other held a clumsily bundled, hand-made gift I'd proudly crafted in school for my parents, probably a decoupaged paperweight or ashtray with my freckled-face school photo pasted to the bottom (imagine, stubbing-out a cigarette on a grinning child's face!)
The snow fell heavily as I waited for the big Ford Country Squire Station Wagon to pull around the mounds of snow, and up to the curb. I knew, from previous experience, that it would be packed to the brim with luggage and gaily wrapped Christmas gifts (without the bows of course).
In a protected corner, my Dad will have placed the big, yellow and brown-speckled, Charles Chips can, inside of which Mom had lovingly layered her delicately beautiful Christmas stars (ethnic pastries).
There'd be pillows and blankets waiting in the backseat, a big old metal Thermos (filled with black coffee, of course), waxed-paper wrapped, white-bread, bologna sandwiches, potato chips and pretzels, in a brown-paper grocery bag, and Duncan, the family dog (a little black, Scottish moppet we all adored).
I couldn't wait! Along with thousands of others, we'd be making our way along America's highways and by-ways to Grandmother's house.
Along with the forced-air heat, there was always an air of anxiety in the car. Most of the drive would be made in the dark, and the weather was always a concern, whispered about between Mom and Dad.
With threats of 'Santa's watching' hanging over our heads, my brother and I, were generally reluctant to make too much of a fuss in the backseat. But threats wouldn't stop us from trying to sneak into the cookie tin in the cargo hold.
As the sun set on the slushy, two-lane interstate highway, we'd burrow contentedly beneath our button-front wool coats and blankets, secure in the knowledge that we were in good hands with Daddy at the wheel . . .
Too quickly, Sinatra's song ended. I blinked, and found myself staring once again, at a post on the computer screen.
Thank you Cyndi for the unexpected trip down memory land. You and Frank got it just right . . .
(the photo above, is of my brother at age two, with Santa)