By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member
Our Christmas tree stood proudly in a corner of the dining room. Not sure why that was, since the living room was about twice as large. Watering was never required. No groovy aluminum tree with a color wheel, just a green, somewhat realistic tree. I vaguely remember one year when we had a white one; wonder what happened to it?
My favorite holiday decorations resided on top of the fireplace: 4 felt covered small boxes, most likely homemade, one each in turquoise, red, green and white. Each box sported a felt letter with sequins in corresponding colors, spelling out NOEL. When I was old enough to reach the top of the fireplace mantle, that all changed and the letters usually read LEON, the name of one of my brothers. I rearranged them as often as I could; because I'd giggle every time. The rest of the family tired of my little joke after the first few switcheroos. Too bad.
I also loved the pixies that resided on the mantle, each with their arms locked together in a ring so you could stuff their legs through; optional of course. Their faces had a very strange smell to them, which was worth taking a little sniff of now and again; must have been all the chemicals in the plastic that gave off their intriguing scent.
We had Christmas dinner twice. Well, sort of. A ham on the eve, then off to bed for us kids. Who could sleep when we knew that Santa was coming any minute? I did my usual and read a book and fell asleep with the light on. My trusty pink bathrobe with blue, green and brown flowers was hanging over the chair by my desk, ready for wearing. That same quilted Sears bathrobe was my costume for the third grade play where I played Cindy Lou Who in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I wouldn’t be caught dead in that color combination today!
Finally, the time was here! We’re heading downstairs! At seven years old, I still believed in Santa Claus, but not for much longer.
The presents were always so big! And there were always so many. I remember getting a Chatty Cathy one year, and graduated to my first Barbie not too long after. Barbie acquired lots of friends and relatives, Skipper, Casey who had one groovy earring, Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Scooter and Maddie Mod. Many of these dolls sported mod styled clothing which I understand is worth a lot more than the dolls nowadays! Oh, and Barbie’s boyfriend? Ken? Fuhgeddaboudit. She was into that man in uniform, G.I. Joe, in the days before his hair was made of fuzz.
Back to ripping that wrapping; I was always curious about my brother’s gifts. THEY got a lot of cars, which I guess my parents thought was not appropriate to give to little girls. Humph. Then I saw it; a big box that said “Creepy Crawlers” on it. THAT grabbed my interest. I grabbed the box and looked at the artwork and was fascinated by all those bugs on the box. I turned the box on its side. And then I saw it. An orange sticker that said “Grand Way $9.99”. WHAT? Santa shops at Grand Way? No, he and his elves make the toys, right? Uh oh.
I didn’t even have to ask. I knew. But the clincher that completely drove it home came the next day when I heard my Dad say to my Mom “I got the Creepy Crawlers for $2.99; they rang it up wrong.” Oh dear.