Column: Share memories, not presents

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 26, 2006

Adam Hammer, Writer’s Block

If you are reading this, you have surely survived &8220;Black Friday.&8221; Lucky you.

It&8217;s now time to count your battle scars, tally up your savings and get ready for the chaos that is the holiday season.

Personally, I skipped out on searching for the big deals the day after Thanksgiving. I went to watch the show, but decided the few pennies that would have been saved were not worth the headache and possible scraped knees and fractured ribs.

Besides, when did Christmas become the season for ruthless battles in the toy department and anarchy in electronics? The latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos may be at the top of many gift-getters&8217; lists, but I like to think the holidays are more about getting together with family and celebrating our time together, gifts or no gifts. Even if that time together has me frazzled and high-strung by the time my minivan leaves the driveway.

The holidays were not always like this.

I remember the good ol&8217; days, the first five or six years of my life when my family and I lived in a trailer house in the country with a mink farm in the back yard. We had a wood stove in the entry way that heated the place and a dog named Roscoe who was usually laying in front of it keeping warm with his one eye half open watching for pesky intruders. Christmas was the only day of the year he was allowed past the front porch.

My brother and I shared a bunk bed in that house. I remember many Christmas Eve nights laying in the bottom bunk kicking his bed above me, just to be a nuisance as little brothers do. I bubbled with excitement because I knew the next day would be Christmas.

I would lay in bed thinking about Transformers and Voltron wishing for the coolest toys, gadgets and gizmos available. But for the life of me, I cannot to this day remember one toy I got. It&8217;s not because I didn&8217;t get toys for Christmas, I had a room full of toys, it&8217;s because they were never that memorable.

What I remember about the holiday season is decorating our Christmas tree with Shrinky Dink ornaments my brother, Chris, and I made with Mom. I remember Dad lifting me up to put the Christmas tree topper on.

Every Christmas day, my father would go out ice fishing and make Chris and me wait for him to get back for us to open presents. We still got to our stockings before the crack of dawn to tide us over until he returned, but I don&8217;t remember what was in the stockings either.

I do remember ballroom dancing in the kitchen with my brother because we were going crazy waiting for Dad to get back from his fishing expedition. And then we swam under a sea of wrapping paper on our living room floor after we tore through all the presents. Dad was always the photographer.

I remember making smores by the fire of our old Franklin stove in the living room and giving Roscoe his Christmas bone. I remember feasting at dinnertime and eating leftovers through the New Year. I remember being happy because Chris had winter break from school and I had someone else to play with, even though he didn&8217;t usually play fair.

I remember being happy because my family was there.

These are a few of the memories of the holidays I have that keep me smiling amidst sale-crazed shoppers and the many Scrooges.

Happy holidays.

Adam Hammer is a staff writer at the Albert Lea Tribune.