I was raised in a small Indiana town that use to have wonderful Christmas parties sponsored by the local fired department. I wrote and posted the following story on a local website a few years back. It is a compilation of memories I had from these Christmas celebrations during my childhood back in the 60’s. Hope you all enjoy it.
Has anyone in here ever attended the annual Christmas parties they use to hold at the fire department in Winona Lake? They would start late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve driving the fire engine around, sirens screaming and lights flashing, up and down Park Avenue with Santa on the back, waving and tossing candy to the little kids that were lined up and down the street. A dozen or so rambunctious little hellions would push, shove, pinch, punch, kick and bite for the right to possess the same piece of candy. In the midst of this royal rumble lay untouched, several other pieces of candy, never to find the lips of a needy child.
After the smoke cleared and everyone within earshod of the sirens
were fully alerted to the festivities, the fire truck would then
pull back into the fire house and let everybody in. Santa would
perch himself on his throne and start passing out presents to the
kids when they came up to sit on his lap. It was always really cool
stuff back then: a can of playdough, a coloring book with crayons,
an etch-a-sketch, a water color set or various little games. Some of
the children would laugh, others would cry. But most would sit and
stare at Santa with wild eyed amazment, trying to remember what they
wanted to ask him to bring for Christmas. There were all kinds of
tasty little goodies laid out on tables around the fire house for
anyone to enjoy.
After Santa lost all circulation below his waist, and everybody was
about to throw up from all the goodies, everyone would head over to
the park where they had decorated this enormous Christmas tree that
seemed like it was 100 feet tall. By then, it was pitch dark
outside. There must have been a million gleaming, glittering,
twinkling lights on that tree, and ornaments the size of
basketballs. Then, just like all the little Whos’ down in Whoville,
they gathered around the tree and sang Christmas carols. It seemed
like the whole town was there. And eventually, not too many dry
eyes, I might add. It seemed that we almost always got lucky on
Christmas Eve and would get at least a fresh little dusting of snow
during this part of the event. I guess God wanted to make sure
Jesus’ birthday party went over perfectly with out a hitch. And it
The amazing thing was, if I’m remembering correctly, hardly anyone
drove a car to these festivities. Some lived at least a mile or two
away. When the party was over, everyone just seem to slowly and
reluctantly drift off in little groups. Some of the parents would be
carrying their small children that had passed out, on their
shoulders. Young couples would fade back from the crowds, arm-in-
arm, while thoughts of sugar plums danced in their loins. OOPS!
SORRY folks! I mean HEADS! Everywhere you looked, little bundled up
energizer bunnies would be buzzing around all over the place. Some
of the elderly folks would be slowly shuffling down the snow covered
sidewalks to their modest, but festively lit homes. If we weren’t
too tired, many of us not so little kids (probably age 6 and above)
that didn’t have our parents with us, would head down to the canal
and play on the ice until we were almost too tired to walk home.
When we entered the house, we were greeting by the most heavenly
scent in the universe – the smell of Mom’s Christmas cookies baking.
Big sister would jump in immediately and help Mom with the cookies
and might even put on a pan of hot coco, while two rowdy little
brothers fought for space in front of the heater to thaw out.
Occasionally, Mom would offer the boys each a beater covered with
some tasty batter to lick clean. They also were the duty tasters for
every single batch of cookies that came out of the oven: From oat
meal, to chocolate chip, to peanut butter, to various Christmas
shaped sugar cookies. EMMMM! Darn it! I’m making myself hungry!
Soon, everyone would settle in the living room and watch Christmas
specials: Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, Andy Williams, The King Family
or what ever special was on at the time. The patriarch of our little
abode would be sitting in a huge overstuffed chair that was such a
faded red color that it almost looked like rust. Earlier in the day
the Good King of this castle might have went a couple rounds on the
floor with Blacks’ Mulligan and Lansa, aka…the two rowdy little
brothers. Laying now, at his feet, were the two rowdy little
brothers and a boxer dog that was stretched out and relaxed so much
he was passing more gas than the fuel pipe to our furnace. Come to
think of it, we probably should have hooked him up, rear end first,
to the furnace. But it might have caused an explosion and burnt the
house down. Mom and Big Sis were curled up on the couch, taking a
much needed break from the cookies and trying to ignore the gagging
odor coming from the business end of the boxer. The rowdy little
brothers could often be caught stealing hungry, almost predatory
glances at the colorfully wrapped presents under the sparkling
Christmas tree. A mixture of exhaustion, anticipation and a cozy
feeling of contentment would settle in and the two rowdy little
brothers would pass out. Only to be inexplicately awakened around
4am in the morning, laying in the little bed they shared, energized by uncontrollable anticipation of the day’s festivities.
Merry Christmas, folks.