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by Dave Friant

Yep. The tail end of this years’ 365-day whirly ride. That special time when mellowing out seems to take a backseat to the demands of the season. Verbal sparring involving “I’ve got mine” vaccine shot confirmations. Confident calculations regarding the Cowboys saddling up again for a Super Bowl run. Finding out that gifts for the grandkiddos may still be aboard giant cargo ships waiting to dock in Southern California. Deciding which (if any) holiday parties to attend and how much eggnog to concoct. Life during December happenings is anything but stress-free.

Thought some glimpses into my past relating to the dominant Christmas colors might resolve some of the anxiety. Yes. This one’s for hue. Red and green. In addition to white, these are the primary shades when dealing with 12/25. They maintain leaderboard status year after year. . . always on the podium regarding the sights that for the most part conjure up favorable recollections.

Ours was a house during my elementary school-age years that featured a reasonable amount of special season lights strewn around it. Not talking Chevy Chase-orchestrated displays that would cause blackouts in the neighborhood. Simply giant globes of assorted colors attached to unruly strings of cheer. An additional popular touch (as viewed by mom) was the placing of those cheaply constructed plastic 5-candle sets haphazardly taped on all of the windowsills. They were a challenge to keep continually lit. Bulbs (red and green only for the Friant household) seemed to play bizarre games with our psyches when either going completely out or to the point of unruly flickering.

We lived in a tiny town 9 miles from the Holly City of Millville, New Jersey. Although an option, those purchasing artificial trees were characterized as bah humbug-ers in our neck of the woods. Several acres of Douglas firs and specialty pines were accessible to those with an adventurous nature and a sharp axe.

The Christmas wonderment associated with Santa in my life came to a screeching halt at the age of 8. It resulted from a premature disclosure by an older buddy who spilled the beans, or more aptly broke the candy canes, about the bearded mystery man. It was devastating. What about the partially consumed glass of milk on the mandle and the crumbs left on the carpet next to the chimney? It took a few weeks’ worth of coming to grips with “the big lie” before a return to normalcy was realized.

It was my 11th year of life when the “TO: Eagles Fan” large package during Christmas morning of 1960 was found on our living room floor. Asked for had been a complete football uniform, with shoulder pads included, this go-round. Bingo! White pants and a green #25 (Tommy McDonald) Eagles jersey brought smiles to my face.

The temperature that morning was in the high teens. Not a major deal for a jock-in-the-making. I was in that imaginary zone of pro football player upon dressing in the uniform and scooting to the backyard. Dad found our 70% or so inflated $10 Spaulding football and proceeded to throw some corner routes and post patterns to me for nearly an hour. Not the Green Bay frozen tundra by any stretch, but footing on our makeshift backyard field was marginal. Then it happened. Upon reaching back over my left shoulder for a slightly underthrown 40-yard Hail Mary, I slipped and fell to the ground. Ripped on a sizable portion of the uniform were sections of material around the knee. Opened-up were somewhat minor (but painful) gashes causing Dracula’s favorite plasma to appear. Our trusty backyard hose was summoned to clean out the grass and dirt from the wound. Quite the red and green mixture on that special day.

Some other recalls and imageries:

1) Uncle Ned wearing his rarely washed Kelly green corduroy shorts and knee-high red and green argyles during Christmas family gatherings. He was a “hoot” as described by all who knew him.

2) Our neighbor (Ginny) bringing to the house some of her infamous unsweetened green and red jello squares. Beautifully dished each year, we’re talking restricted diet hospital food here. The nourishment that would reluctantly be checked on the desired meal list by an ICU patient. We were fortunate to have great neighbors. But could we not have walked the higher calorie plank and splurged with some more tasty food. . . at least during even years if nothing else?

3) Taking some delightful bites from candy apples. Otherwise just a fruit tossed in the lunchbox, coating apples with the sugar, corn syrup, and red food coloring mixture made it a kid’s delicacy. The return to something close to normal within the mouth took a day or two given the hardened glaze that routinely got stuck in your teeth. Well beyond the capabilities of toothpicks, at times I would solicit the aid of a knitting needle to unstick the sugary combination.

4) The spectacular array of green fairways and putting surfaces during The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National. Combining the beautiful grasses, the white caddie suits, and the red scores (under par) on the leaderboard is a beautiful view for weekend hackers like myself.

Enjoy the festivities. Above all else, reflect on the birth of Christ and the impact His presence can have in our lives . A more bearable 365 is within sight.

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