John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Christmas for Kids

Posted on December 25, 2012


“Decade” by Neil Young.

That was the Christmas present that marked the end of the children’s portion of my Christmas career.

I had some great Christmases when I was a little tyke.

I got “Fort Apache” when I was five, a plastic fort filled with toy cowboys and Indians (or native Americans, these days).  I am not sure if the cowboys and Indians meme is politically correct now, but back in 1968, when “Gunsmoke” still dominated the airwaves, you could play with guns and shoot Indians who wielded tomahawks and not feel guilty about it.

I remember that “Fort Apache” Christmas, because I imagined that I had actually seen Santa Claus putting presents under the tree.  I was the kind of kid who got up at the crack of dawn to investigate if Santa had arrived, and I was doing my commando routine, sliding on my belly on the floor as I tried sneak under the noses on my sleeping parents.  My 3 year-old brother was my comrade in arms.

As I recall, mom and dad weren’t very amused by the racket we made when discovered the loot left by the fat man in red suit.  Somewhere in the Feehery family archives, there is video footage of that morning.  My dad loved to use the movie camera to take pictures, complete with lights that blinded us boys.  He was irritated because he wanted to take pictures of the initial excitement of the day.

But I jumped the gun, and I still think that I saw Santa that morning.  My eyes must have played tricks on me, which wouldn’t be the first time (for example:  Mitt Romney).

Which reminds me.  At what point did the fat man in the red suit become a tall fat man?  I was reading “Twas the Night before Christmas” to my son last night, and in that poem, Santa was the chief elf, and the reindeer are tiny.  That makes a lot more sense, especially if you believe that he comes down through the chimney.  There is no way a big fat guy can get down that way.  A really small fat guy?  Well, yeah, that makes sense.

Christmas started making less sense for me the older I got.

Neil Young’s Decade album, which I found in my Dad’s closet at age 15 two weeks before the big day, was the marquis item of 1980.  A couple of years later, the only thing on my Christmas list was cold, hard cash, which came in handy once college started and I was largely out of cash.  My mother still insisted on giving me T-shirts and underwear and every once in a while some cologne, but my dad complied with my request.

Fast-forward thirty later, and Christmas is getting to be a lot of fun again.

My son Jack was so excited for Santa, that he hurriedly scampered into bed last night so that the big fat man in a red suit wouldn’t skip our house.

Jack wrote a letter to Santa with his wish list, which included a hand-held video game that plays violent games.  He had some other items on the list which is also didn’t get, largely because we didn’t have a chance to read it before he had put the list in an envelope, addressed it to the North Pole and stuck it in a mail box with a stamp.

But he made out fine.  He got a baseball bat, some games, and the big ticket item that I wanted, an X-box Kinnect.  Nothing like kid’s toys that are just as fun for the parents.

In any event, Christmas is really magical for kids, for people who have kids and for people who never grow up.  I fall into the last two categories.

I know Christmas is supposed to mean more than toys and games and presents and meals.  We are celebrating the birth of Jesus, an event that rarely seems to get mentioned in the crush of holiday shoppers.

That is what Christmas is supposed to mean.  But having some fun toys is not the worst way to celebrate the season.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.