Christmas 2010 column

By Kevin Gray

As another Christmas approaches and “a wrap” placed on another semester, I can’t help but take a few moments for reflection before considering the question, “What do I want for Christmas?”

I can’t believe how fast this year went. Gone just like that! Christmas will be the same, too. Kind of like all my previous Christmases. There’s the old black and white photo of me, age 2, standing next to the Christmas tree with a cast on my left leg. A few weeks before, Mom told me not to climb up on the kitchen table, when she was vacuuming. My listening skills, I assume, were not yet in developing stages. And, so, down I went.

Numerous other photos show me either in Santa’s lap with a questioning – Who is this big guy? I don’t know him – look on my face; asleep beneath the Christmas tree (Dad’s camera once caught a halo refection on the top of my blond flattop); at the ready with my first bicycle age 6; pictures of loot gained on various Christmas mornings (being an only child was a plus in those days); and, then, years later pictures of our own kids unwrapping their own presents and the living room in our three different houses littered with wrapping paper. Of course, just as many pictures are taken in Atchison with my wife’s parents, her siblings and relations.

Christmas 2010 brings me to a different stage in my life. A very busy stage, but a stage nonetheless. The cast on my leg and the bicycle picture have always been signs to me about my future, meaning busy and unable to slow down. As were stories from my mother about walks she and I would take in Oneonta, N.Y., where I was born and where we lived for about three years and repeated in Richmond, Va. “I would stop to talk to someone, and you would disappear,” she would tell me later on. “Where would I go?” I asked. “I don’t know, but some of the neighbors said you would enter their back doors looking for cookies.”

I must admit that not much has changed over time. I’m still going who-knows-where on sub jobs for four different school districts and doing what I can for the Osawatomie Journal. And, let me tell you, those teachers’ lounges have had such an amazing selection of treats of late, including cookies.

But speaking seriously, the Osawatomie Journal is still going strong, which has given me the chance to also return to the classroom as a substitute teacher. I enjoy getting to see what teachers are doing with their students. And, best of all, I have a treasure trove of ideas in case I should ever go back full time. I was even able to relearn and learn some new French words thanks to Mrs. Nickelson at Prairie View High School, who took a maternity leave. Let’s see, “bisquit” is cookie. An easy word to remember.

I credit my parents, though, on my sixth Christmas for getting me my first bicycle. It was beat up and used, for sure, but to my “Why’d Santa not get me a brand new bike?” Dad said, “This must be a starter bike…You’d get a new one all scratched and dinged up.”

Who knows what else I found under the tree that morning? The bike was all I needed because it gave me a taste of independence, and pretty soon I had named it “Old Faithful”. As for 2010 and “What do I want for Christmas?” Plenty! But nothing like I hoped and dreamed for in those days. I’m not easy to buy for because there’s nothing I really want or that I won’t pick up some other time, when and if needed at all.

So what do I really really want for Christmas? For my wife, Diane, and me to remain healthy and full of energy, as well as for her parents to remain healthy, too. To get by the Leavenworth National Cemetery to say, “Hi, Mom and Dad,” to mine. To see our kids over Christmas for as much time as possible. To be able to continue going, as we do, to schools (she subs, too) all over the country-side or for me to cover newspaper stories. Oh and that my Dakota keeps on running strong, like my Old Faithful, my first bike, to take me to who-knows-where. The same for Diane’s Cutlass Supreme.

But, thinking of gifts, there is that newly released Springsteen CD called, “The Promise…” Hum. The perfect size for a stocking. Christmas cookies? And I do like fruit cake…

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Posted by admin on Dec 22 2010. Filed under Kevin Gray, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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