As I look back upon the thrilling holidays of yesteryear, I have come to believe those Christmases Past were magical. They were always white with snow. Everything sparkled. No strife. No sadness, only smiles and love.
Even today, I love Christmas time.
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I remember a few years back, while watching the annual showing of Rankin-Bass? animated ‘classic,? Santa Claus is Comin? To Town, I was shocked at children, and in particular at my child, then four-year-old Sean.
The Rankin-Bass special is narrated by an animated Fred Astaire. Twinkle-toes plays postman SD Kluger who is en route to the North Pole to deliver Santa all the kiddies? letters. Sometime within the first five minutes of the show, Astaire is barraged with questions about Santa from faceless children. Why does he live at the North Pole? How do reindeer fly? Why does he wear a red suit?
Astaire’s answer to the grilling is something like, ‘Well gather ’round children, and I’ll answer your questions, cause I know all there is to know about Santa.?
To which Sean turned to me and said, ‘No he doesn’t — he’s only a puppet.?
My kid’s too damned smart, or realistic, or missed the memo on the whole Christmas-magic thing.
* * *
Kids today are too smart for their own good. Or, maybe, kids yesterday were just too gullible.
* * *
I was definitely gullible and a child of the Rankin-Bass era. Whenever there was a Christmas TV special, I was always bummed when the voice of Santa wasn’t that of Mickey Rooney. Rooney voiced Kris Kringle in the same production where Astaire played Postman Kluger.
All right, you got me. I’m still bummed when a Christmas TV special doesn’t have Mickey Rooney’s voice as Santa.
* * *
Did I tell you I was a gullible child?
I remember when I started to question the validity of the right jolly old elf. I know the exact date and place. Christmas Day, in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Nine. Grandma Rush’s house on Wisconsin Street in Detroit. I was near the couch in the living room when one-year-older cousin, Sheila Kessler said, ‘There is no Santa.?
I fought that notion. I argued against that idea. I was very sad. I still am sad Sheila doesn’t believe in Santa. I still do.
* * *
Shamus has always been a pointdexter. I am sure he has run all the numbers, consulted his textbooks, calculated with his slide rule and, mathematically speaking, I don’t know if he is still in Santa’s corner. At 11, I am sure Santa is something he will believe in again when he has kids of his own. I remember a few years back, he hadn’t declared Santa a fake, but I could sense he was starting to doubt. It was cute when he talked to Sean. In an over-dramatized voice:
‘Sean, you better be good.? Wink wink. ‘Or Santa won’t leave you any presents.? Wink wink.
* * *
Around that time, Shamus was really getting in the holiday spirit, however. After dinner one winter’s night I ambled into the living room, to discover . . .
. . . an ottoman covered with little paper airplanes. In the middle of the planes was a small sign, that in block Shamus Script read:
buy one get
two cents each
And, on the back of the wee little sign was:
leave money here
Yep, old Shamus is right in the spirit of things — the ‘let’s make a dime during the season? spirit. Think Christmas is overly commercialized?
Nah. I didn’t think so, either.
* * *
Speaking of Rankin-Bass, some folks say the little elf who wants to be a dentist in the 1964 Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was named Herbie. Wrong-o. According to the official Rankin-Bass website, www.rankinbass.com, the elf’s name is Hermy. Burl Ive’s Snowman was named, Sam. There you go, more useless information brought to you by Don Rush. You can thank me later.
E-mail the ever-gullible Don at: email@example.com