Christmas Nightmares

Like many children growing up in the 1950’s, he looked forward to Halloween even more than to Christmas.  It was, admittedly, a difficult choice, because at Halloween, all he got was candy or a disappointing piece of fruit, while Christmas was a bigger bonanza even than his birthday.  Nonetheless, after the anticipations of Christmas Eve and the visitations of carolers, the unwrapping of presents on Christmas morning was anticlimactic.  Quickly working through the soft presents to get the socks and shirts out of the way, he moved on to the pair of Roy Rogers six-guns, chemistry set, or truck until his parents would bring out the big present—his first two-wheeler, a new sled, a pair of hockey skates.  But then what did he have to look forward to?  After an hour or two of showing off and comparing loot with his pals, there was the long slow day of losing interest in the new toys, ended by a dinner—worth looking forward to, certainly, for the food, but ruined by too much grown-up conversation or, worst of all, his grandparents who spoke some language they claimed was English but which he could never understand.  If he was lucky, he would be permitted to escape to his room to read, though all too often his parents made him stay in the living room to make “conversation” with their friends.  He obliged by showing off his amazingly boring set of astronomical statistics: the circumference...

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