Back in the '50s, our little girls had a song on a 45 rpm record that went: "Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, won't you please put a penny in the old man's hat?"
I'll use that to start a memory piece about Christmas.
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come" O. Henry and "The Gift of the Magi" candles on our tree, and dad putting them out after about 10 minutes strings of popcorn and cranberries, on the tree or around the room one little electric candle in the front window a big tree in the middle of my Idaho town
The March girls in "Little Women" and breakfast for the poor neighbor family packages wrapped in red and green crepe paper Big Little Books "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" getting our parents up at 3 a.m. one Christmas morning that first bicycle wishing we could afford a Flexible Flyer sled hard candy
"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" wishing we had our own holly bushes Mother in her Santa outfit, running from window to window and knocking on each one the first bubble lights, seven of them, on our little tree in our apartment at Utah State
Snow, almost guaranteed for our childhood Christmases bobsleds with bells, going down the street "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" "O Come All Ye Faithful," Mother's favorite carol those big, long stockings, with a banana and an orange in the toe the wondrous odor of the tree we cut on the Dayton hillside
Pretending for the younger kids a belief in Santa Claus prowling the downtown stores to look at toys and decorations "All is calm, all is bright" reading about the terrible Christmas our Revolutionary soldiers had at Quebec "Miracle on 34th Street" on television every year store windows in Kansas City
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" our harmonica choir and the ghastly noise we made on "Silent Night" hardback books that cost only a quarter A Christmas Eve trying to put a rocking horse together Carolyn, not a year old, shaking a tree branch 'til it was bare of ornaments
Two little girls, reciting their poems "The funniest face was looking at me, from a silver ball on the Christmas tree" "Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow" the toy garage that wouldn't work, and Kathy asking why we returned it to a store
Sitting near the fireplace on Christmas morning roasting chestnuts, wondering a big why we took the trouble "You better watch out, you better not cry" going to the Goodyear store for the new album each year in Europe as the holidays neared, and the silver on the chestnut trees on the Champs Elysees
A huge tree at an intersection in Madrid a card from Kathy, Snoopy wildly dancing, "Happiness is coming home for Christmas, right?" sending postcards home of El Greco paintings Vespers, backs when the university dared say "Christmas" both our girls in the holiday a capella programs at Lawrence High
"Silver bells, silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city" Christmas in Arizona, at Carolyn's home, and seeing three tall cacti dressed like the three wise men driving home from Denver on a Wyoming highway packed with ice watching Big Bird on "Sesame Street," year after year that little boy, Steven, eyes full of wonder
The coming of Laura, and then Daniel Laura making her lists of what everybody got, and making us wait our turn Daniel, eager to try out the new Legos presents the arrival of two cats to brighten the holiday for those two "And a partridge in a pear tree"
Those Broadway show albums I bought every year the magnificent (and maybe corny) light displays all over town A Santa Claus in Nice, France, making a pass at a pretty girl addressing all those cards "Rudolph with your nose so bright" teasing our girls by signing "Rudolph, the red-nosed camel"
Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" all the religious movies on TV, even "The Ten Commandments" "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" eating far too many nuts and too much candy fruit cake, whether you like it or not seeing Hanukkah become part of the annual event
Polar bears suddenly becoming a Christmas animal Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald in "Going My Way" "O, Little Town of Bethlehem," and how Phillips Brooks wrote the words mistletoe Christmas 1948, and hitching a ride to go to work on a newspaper in Salt Lake City the Liberty Hall parade of lights
"Good King Wenceslas went out" leaving cookies for Santa Claus (and having to eat them) trying, as a grandpa, nearing 80, to think of anything I want, or need, other than medicine poinsettias, and seeing them blooming on the Mediterranean our tree, and the poinsettia quilt the grand story, religious or not, that you can read in the New Testament