Sitting here in my big, manly, comfortable, black leather poppa chair in my living room reading some of your Christmas story emails, is beginning to make me feel like one of those department store Santas. Here’s one from Proud Podcast Participant Ellen F. Part of the note says, “I live in Manhattan, and watching the magic of Christmas unfold is about my favorite thing. I especially love taking my children to see and enjoy the Rock Center Christmas tree.” That twanged a memory nerve in me. I worked at NBC Radio for years, and every Christmas season, I walked right under that tree to the station which is in the RCA building, right next to the tree. Some nights, my Lady Wonder Wench came to the station with me.
My Lady and I are Louie Louie Generation folks. We’ve been around for a while. But walking under that tree was always like walking into a magic forest where a little furry squirrel grabs a peanut, looks up, and sounding like a chipmunk named Alvin, wishes us a Merry Christmas, and a tough New York pigeon sings a song about a one horse open sleigh…with a very noticeable New York accent. I loved watching my Lady turn into a lovely little girl again… hoping Santa will bring her a Raggedy Ann doll.
My cousin Damien is a priest. He’s stationed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is right across the street from the Rock Center tree. Father Damien is obviously a very religious guy. But around this time of year, I always remind him of the year he got a Lionel train set for Christmas. My train set was bigger than his, but he had some track switches on his and mine didn’t. I have confessed to Father Damien that I kind of envied his switches all those years ago, because they came with some extra buttons on the transformer …and the buttons lit up…and I’ve always liked pushing buttons and watching things light up. That’s the best thing about my car. It has a button on the key chain…you push the button and the lights turn on. I love that.
But I never wanted to swap my train set for Damien’s, because my train set had a tunnel that my grandfather made for me, and his didn’t. He also didn’t have my grandfather. My grandfather was a jolly old elf and his grandfather was a lawyer. It’s funny. Every year we talk about our train sets. “My train set was better than your train set.” And for a little while, we’re two little kids again. Two little grey haired kids.
Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birthday of course. But it’s really about much more than that. There’s a good reason why Jingle Bells is the number one song on the radio these days. Jingle Bells is a song about people caring about each other and having fun together. There’s a whole chapter about Jingle Bells and Christmas in my book Staying Happy Healthy And Hot. That’s obviously a plug for the book which is available at Amazon.com but it’s more than that. I really care about Christmas. And I think most of you do too. That’s why I’d appreciate it if you’d take a couple of minutes to send me an email and tell me how you feel about Christmas. . My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . I’ll be posting lots of your notes on the blog at www.dicksummer.com/dsblog . It doesn’t need to be a big complicated note. Just make it real. Make it honest. Like Christmas.
Dick’s Details Quiz. All answers are in the current podcast.
1- What do you call a group of chess fanatics bragging about their games in a hotel lobby ?
2- What does “Christmas” mean in Georgia ?
3- What’s a “Christmas Card” to a CB radio person ?
Dick’s Details. They take your mind off your mind.
In my book, Staying Happy Healthy And Hot, Big Louie his own bad self, always says, “If you still have any moving parts left, for heaven sake, move ‘em.” Christmas isn’t all about singing fa la la la la…in fact you might want to be careful about singing that in some neighborhoods while you are wearing your gay attire. Sometimes when you look back at Christmases past, you see something more than train sets. There are ghosts in most of our Christmases past. Memories of times when maybe you should have moved your moving parts… and didn’t. There’s a story about that in the Bedtime Stories Personal Audio CD. It’s called “The Prince of Fantasy.”
There was a Christmas a long time ago, when there was a giant, empty space inside me that desperately needed to be filled. I took a chance. I took one more walk in Prince Fantasy’s park…and she was there…waiting. I was amazed. I thought she’d be gone. But she took a chance too…waiting all that time…to fill that empty space that needed to be filled…with a Christmas kiss.
If you like “The Prince of Fantasy” you can just keep this podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy, check out the Bedtime Stories icon on the home page.
The Rock Center tree is a tradition that got started in 1931. It was the height of the great depression. Rock Center was part of the effort to get people back to work. So on Christmas Eve 1931, the guys who were lucky enough to have the job of building Rock Center celebrated by putting up a little Charley Brown kind of tree. And New Yorkers never looked back, and they’ll never stop looking up to the star on top.
And I’ll never forget walking hand in hand with my Lady, under that tree, and watching her turn back into that little girl…who was hoping Santa might bring her a Raggedy Ann doll. It took some help from the Salvation Army…all those years ago…but Santa came through. And that same Raggedy Ann doll will be smiling up from under our tree again this year…one more time.