Category Archives: Santa Claus

Sit-Com Stars in Hallmark Movie

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On another post, we had just been talking about 1989, when a few

of our favorite funny situation comedies originated. I could not

believe my ‘luck’ when I turned on the Hallmark Channel to find a

movie with a catchy title, “The Christmas Con.” There is an ensemble

cast of six famous actors from more than six situation comedies.

They show their talent and  versatility in this meaningful Hallmark

movie.

 

I will sketch the plot in, along with giving you the ‘who’s who’ of t.v.

series actors. If you are a fan of television trivia games, you may be

able to ‘keep up with me,’ in this essay about performers who have

been around television for years: one since 1982. Although the title

isn’t very pretty nor the story as simple as some Hallmark Christmas

movies are, it tells a meaningful story of hope and forgiveness.

 

There is a collection of outstanding, amusing actors who played

character parts in this story of ‘redemption.’ The movie has two

characters, an ex-convict who needs to change his way of dealing

with people, passing through his life ‘taking’ and never ‘giving.’ The

second character must face his addiction, he has to fall flat on his

face, embarrass himself, go to jail and then, find his way home.

 

The actor who plays the character of an alcoholic man, came from a

caring family, dramatic show, “Party of Five.”  My two daughters loved

the whole cast of this show. They would know this man who later left

this show to play an irascible red-headed doctor.  Although, you may

or may not,  have known the popular teenaged-cast of “Party of Five,”

he was, “Will Mc Corkle.” Then you may have seen him as the red haired

“pain in the butt” doctor from the serious show, “E.R.”  This character

was the head of the “E.R.” as, Dr. Archie Morris. “Archie” was disliked by

most everyone, (nurses and the E.R. hospital staff) which showed quite

a range of talent in this role played by Scott Grimes. It was nice to have

known him as a likable man in the first show, then respect his portrayal

of a ‘by the books’ doctor who sometimes went ‘head to head’ with John

Stamos, who played another type of character on “E.R.” Scott Grimes

went from “E.R.” to act in a few television movies, along with another

series, “Band of Brothers.”

Interestingly enough, Scott Richard Grimes made a ‘soft rock and roll’

album, (also described as  ‘popular rock’) called, “Sunset Boulevard.” He

wrote all of the songs and sang them, too. I have not checked this out

but it was favorably reviewed, in its genre.

 

Then there was the character of the  endearing ex-convict with a ‘heart

of gold,’ who plays Santa Claus, making a promise he nearly is unable to

keep for the son of the red-headed man. Scott Grime’s plays a father/

ex-husband who is unfortunately battling alcoholism. His son asks Santa

Claus to bring his mother and father back together again for Christmas.

 

Santa promises to bring this estranged father back ‘into the fold,’ becoming

part of the trio the boy considers his ‘family.’ The ex-con is played by Barry

Watson, who both my daughters had major ‘crushes’ on, while he was the

oldest son in a family of seven members being raised by a minister, known

as, “Seventh Heaven.” Barry Watson left “Seventh Heaven,” to battle in his

own personal ‘real life drama,’ Hodgkins Disease. My family, son included,

had Barry in our prayers for a few years. His attractive long-haired look in

the family show changed to a gaunt, bald look when he was interviewed

during this period of time. The producers allowed him to ‘spread his wings,’

by being behind the camera, in his writing plots and helping set up scenes.

 

There is a memorable scene, in The Christmas Con,” which paints a fairly

accurate picture of an A.A. meeting, where Scott Grimes’ meets Santa Claus,

out of costume. I feel capable of analyzing this subject, due to my own personal

experience of being married to an alcoholic, having attended one year of A.A.,

two years of Alanon, and taking my three children to Children of Alcoholics

meetings.

 

The man who is Santa/Barry’s best friend is played by, Jaleel White, who

portrayed the dorky, inept character named, “Steve Urkel,” in “Family

Matters.” His character has mended his ways of conniving and trying to

trick others, while also being a good and supportive friend to Barry’s

character. He gets to also romance Barry’s ‘sister,’ in the movie, using his

charming demeanor. He looks ‘nothing’ like Steve Urkel, has grown into

a handsome man.

 

John Ratzenberger’s in the cast of this Hallmark movie, playing a Grandpa,

and you know where he came from?  “Cheers,” where he was “Cliff Clavin,”

the mailman, the one who sometimes kept the bar stool warm for hours.

He was the stocky man’s (“Norm’s”) best friend, “where everyone knew

their names.” This series lasted from 1982 -1993. No wonder we felt these

actors were part of our family! John R. went on to make a few different

television movies, played guest character roles on shows and my ‘grandies’

love him in such familiar children’s animated films as the “Toy Story” series,

“Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars,” where he plays (‘voices’) a rusted-out truck.

 

Another familiar character, where you may wonder, “Where have I seen

this attractive black woman before?” She has a unique character part,

as a female preacher in a church.  By the end of the story, you realize this

does not exist. It is a boarded up church, having been condemned. The

recognizable woman, who you don’t immediately ‘place’ or figure out

where she came from, is  talk show hostess, Wendy Williams. She ends

up being a fantastic singer, when she is caroling with church folks in a

neighborhood. I felt she was the Guardian Angel for Barry’s ex-convict

character.

 

The last famous displaced series player, is the actress, Melissa Joan Hart.

You got to know her as a teenaged witch in “Sabrina the Teen Age Witch,”

if you had children in the 90’s. (This ran seven years, 1996-2003.) Along

with Melissa’s more current role on  the show, “Melissa and Joey.” In the

Family Channel show, she is a town councilwoman and Joey (Lawrence)

is playing her ‘stay at home’ Nanny/Housekeeper. Can you believe Joey

was on The Johnny Carson Show, singing at age 5 years old? He is NOT

in this Hallmark movie, but was in one with Melissa Joan Hart, a few

Christmases ago.

(Yes, the plot for “Melissa and Joey,” resembles the one of “Who’s the

Boss?”)

 

Melissa’s character believes in her brother, the man who has just been

released from prison. You don’t feel he was a dangerous criminal and

are sympathetic to his character. (He had been a ‘grifter’ or ‘con artist,’

hence the name of the movie…)

Melissa and Barry make a believably good sister and brother team.

Melissa Joan Hart debuted as the director of this movie, which is a

new position for her to be in.

 

When Jameel’s character meets Melissa, he shows his debonair side,

which eventually they become close and they make a ‘cute couple.’

Their characters go about playing the ‘normal’ fantasy of carrying out

Christmas routines, as they decorate Melissa’s house, listen to Santa/

Barry’s quandary. Both Jaleel’s buddy character and Melissa’s sister

character cheer for the miracle of fixing the nearly irreparable marriage

and family together again.

 

Yes, I told you part of the ending.

The journey makes it worth watching.

The cast of recognizable people who have become part of our ongoing

landscape of television. Those people who come into our living room,

visit and stay awhile. They become more familiar than big screen

actors.

There are a few ‘surprises’ and twisting turns leading you to the

expected and satisfying ending. I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t

know since almost all of these movies come out ‘safe and sound.’

 

Hopefully, instead you will want to watch this more. Since it is the

way they handle the simplistic story, how they fulfill their duties as

characters which will help you admire Scott Grimes, Jaleel White,

Barry Watson, Melissa Joan Hart, John Ratzenberger and Wendy

Williams. In my mind, this is an ‘All Star Cast’ of television experts.

 

This is a treat to see, savor and remember. It shows me Christmas is

a time for all possibilities imaginable to come true.

 

Happy Moments

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Here are some funny jokes that have children and all ages involved

in them. They will hopefully bring you a chuckle and some cheerful

thoughts to get you through the rest of the week. These came from

Pookie, my Mom’s good friend in California. Mom circled a few of

the  jokes on the pages and added her own wording.  I trust her

editing and typed them pretty closely to how she had these.

These are story ‘jokes’ where it may actually sound like they are

written by me, but they are not. I think it is fun to insert myself or

people I know into them.

1.  The Facts of Life:

“On the way home from a Cub Scout meeting, my grandson

innocently said to my daughter,

“Mommy, I know babies come from tummies, but how do they get

there in the first place?”

My daughter tried to change the subject, not quite ready to ‘break

the birds and the bees’ speech’ out at such a late hour with her 10

year old and 5 year old listening in rapt silence.

When she had ‘hemmed and hawed’ awhile, my grandson said in an

exasperated tone,

“Mom, it’s okay if you don’t know the answer, just tell me so!”

2.  A Military Story:

“Just before my friend’s son was deployed to Iraq, he sat his 8 year

old son (her grandson) down and broke the news to him, as gently

as possible, under the circumstances,

“Jimmy, I am going to be away for a long time but will keep in touch

with you, as much as possible.”

His son asked him, looking worried,

“Where are you going?”

Suddenly the friend’s son thought, ‘Oh no, I must not make him

worry,

Maybe he thinks I am dying… After all, just a few months’ ago, his

uncle had passed away…

“Jimmy, I am going to a far off country called, Iraq.”

Jimmy looked at his father like he was crazy and said,

“Don’t you know there’s a war going on over there, Dad?”

3.  Famous People Story, Kid’s Perspective:

“One afternoon a few years ago, Paul Newman was visiting the “Hole

in the Wall Gang Camp” for children stricken with cancer, AIDs and

blood diseases.

When a camp counselor spotted the actor with his wife, Joanne

Woodward, he pointed the couple out to his table of children,

‘That is the man who made movies and is a famous movie star

with his beautiful wife. Have you ever noticed or seen his picture

on salad dressing bottles?’

The kids all gave the camp counselor ‘blank stares.’

He tried once again to let them know about the importance to this

camp Paul Newman and his wife’s philanthropic project meant to

the kids,

“This couple came up with the idea for this camp so you could come

and enjoy the outdoors. Have you ever seen his face on any lemonade

cartons?”

Finally, a little eight year old girl perked up,

“How long was he missing?”

4.  God’s Problem Now:

“A man was at his wife’s graveside service, talking and thanking

people for coming to the funeral, despite it being such a stormy day.

He was speaking to the minister who had been so supportive to him

and his family.

All of a sudden, a massive clap of thunder rang through the gray clouds,

followed by a tremendous bolt of lightning.

This was followed by even more rumbling thunder in the distance.

The elderly man looked at his pastor, calmly saying,

“Well, we know she made it!”

5.  An “Aw-w-w!” Moment:

“I was waiting in the reception area of my doctor’s office, when a

woman rolled an elderly man in a wheelchair into the outer room.

As she went to check the elderly man in, over at the receptionist’s

desk, the man sat there alone and silent. His head was down, either

sleepy from his drive there or not feeling well.

Just as I was thinking about making small talk, hoping to brighten

his day, a little boy across the room slipped off his Mommy’s lap.

He walked timidly over to the older gentleman and placed his hand

over the top of the man’s.

He looked directly at the man and said,

“I know how you feel. My Mommy makes me ride in a stroller, too.”

6. Last one, hope this makes you smile. . .

“A group of us were chatting, while my oldest daughter was nursing

her son, (my grandson), Micah.

A 3 1/2 year old cousin, my son’s youngest daughter, went over to

my daughter…

She was quite curious and started asking questions,

‘What ‘cha doing?’

Carrie said, ‘I am feeding your baby cousin, Micah.’

‘What’s it taste like?’

Carrie responded, ‘Like milk. Like the stuff your Mommy puts in

your bedtime bottle.’

(She was still getting a bedtime bottle, soon to be a sippy cup instead.)

She was intrigued by the whole process, waiting to watch Carrie burp

Micah. When Carrie tucked herself back into her nursing bra, the last

comment ‘brought the house down,’ of the family gathering of adults

and children bursting into huge laughs,

‘My Mommy has two of those, but I don’t think she knows

how to use them.'”

My real family news, all joking aside:

Today, Lara is singing at Willis Middle School with the Chorus

singers. I am excited to be going to my first grandchild’s Middle

School program. I hope they will sing holiday songs. I will let you

know tomorrow. (12/17/14)

Tomorrow, in the later evening, Skyler, Micah and my oldest girl,

will do our annual tradition of seeing the lights at Alum Creek State

Park, which used to have just the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” now

has many wonderful displays. This display has gradually expanded

each year since my own three children, my parents and I would take

them. My parents had a Trans Van, which was a great way for the

kids to have a snack, their pajamas on, and get to see both sides of

the presentations. While you drive, you can tune into a local radio

channel that has the songs that go with the displays.

Dad was a ‘big kid at heart’ and loved listening to my children exclaim

in excited voices, “oooh!” and “aahh!” We would also enjoy going to

see Santa Claus across the street at Cross Creek Camp Ground. My

parents liked to sometimes stay there in the summer in the guest lots.

This probably excites me even more than the grandkids and my oldest

daughter. I pay for the ‘treat’ which goes to a worthy cause. They

are happy and do pipe up with their own little exclamations, like their

Mom did, when she was a girl.

What is your favorite family tradition?

Do you like to go out in your vehicle and look at Christmas lights

and decorations? Is there a special neighborhood that you like to

so see annually?

Joyful, Cheery Sounds

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On my way into work this morning, while there was frost on my

windshield and rear window, I blasted my heater and I was once

again, thankful for the warmth and the sound of the air coming

out with a whoosh! The radio was playing one of the most cheery

songs, with a country twang in her voice, Brenda Lee was singing,

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The radio announcer was

using a pleasant, vibrant sounding voice, “Good Morning and let’s

all say, ‘Happy 70th Birthday to . . . Brenda Lee!'”

The first recording of this rocking song was in 1958, written by

Johnny Marks, for Decca Records.

 

While driving behind the school bus, the air brakes squealing and

the door opening on London Road,  to admit busy and excited

high schoolers, (yes, I am up that early!) I felt the movement in

my feet tapping to the music on the radio and the emotions of

the students, too. I usually wish I weren’t ‘stuck’ behind a school

bus, since this means two stops on London Road, along with the

longer stop at the railroad where we ‘catch’ the train, having to

wait for it to pass by. The train whistle blew, the steam was puffing

out of the ‘chimney’ and I felt the rumbling of its approaching

and then listened to the rattling of the clickety-clack.  That is how I

would describe the repetition of the sound.

 

Once I got into my building, several people call out my name, some

who are going off to sleep, (third shifters) and those who are on my

own shift, greeting me. These are happy people since our bosses

had decided to pack our day with ‘heavy’ work and include our half

day’s worth of work we usually do on Friday and complete it today.

This means a three day weekend! Hurrah!

 

At first break, I told my two friends, Tammy and Karen, about Brenda

Lee’s birthday. We agreed the song was still a popular one, the way

it has a lot of joy and glee in its words. Then, Tammy told me she has

been enjoying listening to Harry Connick, Jr. and Lady Antebellum’s

Christmas albums. Karen stated she loves her older albums, now on

Cd’s which include those familiar voices which bring nostalgia into

her home and heart. She likes Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Burl

Ives.

I started making a list in my head, of the songs and people they were

talking about and decided to also, include some of my own personal

favorite songs and carols, along with some memorable sounds of the

holiday season. This is a compilation of some of my favorites, along

with some coworkers’ suggestions:

SONGS:

1. Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “Sleigh Ride,” which begins with the

words,

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,

Ring, ting tingling too…” (Thanks to my friend, Tammy.)

 

2. Dean Martin singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,”

which was written in 1951, by Meredith Wilson.

 

3. Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This

makes me sad, thinking of those who are in the armed services who

may not make it home for Christmas. The thought of the Bob Hope’s

USO holiday celebrations overseas for years and years, quickly cheers

me up again. This tradition carries on still through the help of the

USO.org. There was a lovely photograph of Idina Menzel with some

military families representing the USO. I hope the troops have a lot

of fun and the jokes make them laugh out loud, like Bob Hope would

wish this to go. “Thanks for the memories, Bob!”

Here is a short schedule of locations they are expected to be

entertaining the troops:

Dec. 7-16, 2014:  Japan, Guan and Hawaii, with the Dallas Cowboys

Cheerleaders.

Dec. 13- Clare Bowen (Hostess) at Tinker Air Force Base,  Oklahoma.

Dec. 16- Anthony Hamilton (Host) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Jan. 3 – 9, 2015:  Robert Irvine (Host) at Japan and Okinawa.

(Thanks to my friend, Karen, for reminding me of both Bob Hope

and the USO, along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin’s songs.)

 

3. Whitney Houston singing the hymnal carol, “Do You Hear What I

Hear?”

(Thank you to Melvin, my coworker, who suggested this version but

I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s ‘take’ on this lovely song also. )

Here is a bit of the history of the song:  It was written in 1962, by a

married couple who were moved by seeing children on the streets

of New York City (babies in strollers) and what the lamb might have

heard in the manger scene. This was on the cusp of the Cuban Missile

Crisis, which is why there are words imparting a message of Peace.

The lyrics were written by Noel Regney and the music was written by

his wife, Gloria Shayne Baker.

 

4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas/War is Over,” which

begins with the words, “So This is Christmas.” It was written in 1971,

with tongue in cheek, by John and Yoko, in protest to the Viet Nam

War. It is also said they were thinking of their future children and

what children would ‘inherit’ in the world, with war still going on.

(Their son, Sean Lennon, was not born until 1975.)

When this song was produced, the voices of John, Yoko, the Plastic

Ono Band (with instrumentals) and the Harlem Community Choir

were beautifully blended together. The flip side of this single was

called, “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” The cover of this is ‘vintage’

looking in sepia brown and beige, with the children’s choir, ages 4-14,

included on it.

This song was also played a lot, after John Lennon was murdered on

December 8, 1980; 34 years ago this week.

*This is one of my own personal favorites.

 

5. Nat King Cole singing, “The Christmas Song,” also recognized as,

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This lovely song was written

in 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme.

*Another of my favorites, since my parents played this on their stereo.

 

6. Bruce Springsteen’s version of the old classic song, “Santa Claus Is

Coming to Town.” This is the 2nd oldest song on the list today. It was

written in 1934, by John F. Coats and Haven Gillespie. It was presented

for the first time on the Eddie Cantor’s Radio Show. Later, in 1935, it was

also recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Band. My parents listened to this

version on the stereo and radio.

*I love the way Bruce ‘rocks this one out!’

 

7. My friend Cheryl thought the carol, which to her sounds like it belongs

in a church with a choir, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” sung by

Julie Andrews, is her favorite song of all time.  This hymn was written

by a Unitarian minister, Edmund Sears, in 1849. He lived in Wayland,

Massachusetts. There are various versions of music to go with his

moving words.

Here are a few unusual ones to share with you:

Sergio Franchi sang this in 1965. He was an Italian opera tenor, who

died in Connecticut.

Eric Burdon and the Animals used the music from “The House of

the Rising Sun,” to accompany these lyrics.

Stefan Borsch, (Sweden) performed this in his native language.

The Lettermen performed and put this on a Christmas album in

1987.

Darryl Hall and John Oates included this in a Christmas album.

Anne Murray sang this in 2001, which I feel this would be simple

and beautifully done.

Josh Groban, who is known for singing operatic style, sang this in

2007. He does a fine performance of the song, “You Lift Me Up.”

 

Cheryl is feeling much better about her grandson’s recent death,

since she enlarged a favorite photograph of Christopher when he

was only 6 years old, with her mother, his great-grandmother. She

likes to say often, “Christopher is up in Heaven with my Mom.”

Last Christmas, you may have noticed, Cheryl had me write down a

short message/poem she had written in memorial of her mother’s

fifth anniversary of her death. We are close to one another in the way

we get emotional and are sentimental. She is my one coworker who

cried and held my hand, while we watched the first Inauguration of

President Barack Obama. If you did not read the one night I wrote,

“I have to go,” over and over on a post, you may not know that her

grandson died in his sleep, due to his weakened body, his having both

a combination of the flu and a cold. The autopsy of this fine 23 year

old graduate of Delaware High School and Columbus State student

will not be completed until after the first of the New Year. Cheryl takes

comfort that he had put up his Christmas tree the day of his death and

had also called her to tell her he was putting on some special family

ornaments she had given him when he turned 21.

 

Here are special sounds that are permanently etched into my own

memories:

1. A fire in a fireplace crackling. The logs making a ‘thump’ when they

fall into one another. There is peaceful serenity in listening to a fire.

2. A little child whispering in your ear. This almost makes the hairs

on my arms stand on end. It is magical, whatever words are told.

3. The ‘clink’ of a crystal or glass against another one, while a toast

is being given. The sound of the repeated ‘clinks’ at weddings, to get

the bride and groom to kiss, makes me smile.

4. Dogs bounding towards the door, barking or yipping loudly,

announcing the arrival of guests.

5. The door slammed. I imagine those who have little children saying

to themselves, “Oh, how annoying…” and following this with a lecture

to their children, “We never slam doors in our house.” Somehow, one

day it will come to this, you will wish to hear the door slamming with

the following sound of the words, “Mommy/Daddy. . . I’m home!”

Trust me on this.

6. Baby lambs in the country kitchen of my first babysitter, Mrs. Auble,

“Baa-ing” or ‘bleating’ for their milk bottles, followed by the slurping

noises of their drinking and pulling on the bottles, furiously tugging.

7. Hearty yells.  Across sledding hills, neighbors greeting each other

across streets and yards, and the one voice, that would bring you

running home for lunch (summer) and dinner (winter).

8. Leather boots or rubber boots crunching through the snow. The

sound of the crunch makes you stop talking and ponder in wonder.

9. Birds chirping and singing despite the weather. They always seem

to not be concerned with the cold, brisk air. Their songs echoing in the

early morning air. (Particularly, for me, the cardinal’s message.)

10. The sound of a familiar voice coming across the air waves, now

on cell phone. Back then, on a heavy, black rotary dial phone, of

loved ones (grandparents) far away.

 

Those are my carefully chosen Top Ten “sounds,” will you please let us

know what sounds make you happy, particularly around the holidays?

You may mention a song or a personal memory. . .

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas in July

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This is a true fairy tale about a little red Robin who brought her

Dad’s tears to life. The year was 1964, long ago when there were

magnificent city downtowns where every store was carefully and

gorgeously decorated for Christmas.

The tale begins in Cleveland at the Higbee’s Department Store,

where a famous character was costumed as Mr. Jingaling.

Little Robin’s family of two parents and two brothers were driving

on a blustery cold December night to visit the real Santa Claus!

On the way down, a few rules for the evening were gone over by

these serious and (one) scientific parents. We were to choose a

delicious meal off the kids’ menu and drink milk, not pop. We

were then going to get in the long line to see the real Santa Claus.

Children were not bickering, not wishing to get on His “naughty”

list on this fateful evening.

Once leaving the parking garage, youngest child’s hand was held

firmly by mother, other two children, sister and brother held hands

and father led us to the elevator. Upon the two doors opening with

a whoosh! there was the most breathtakingly opulent sight to behold!

Children’s eyes were scanning the floor of Higbee’s Christmas Toyland

with breathless bodies. To take in all the wonders, one would have to

capture it on film and somehow be able to rewind it over and over again.

(The sixties may have had this special ability but it was totally out of the

realm of possibilities for this child, Robin, to comprehend.)

The line was long, with some babies wailing and children with parents

wound back and forth around trains, dolls, life size and small size

characters in Christmas scenes and elves were rushing all around.

There were lovely glistening sugar plums and candy cane striped railings.

Mr. Jingaling’s line was very long also, but this family chose to see him

from afar. His gift of the keys to Santa’s workshop were already given to

the family’s mother. (Mr. Jingaling played by Mr. Keys was the husband

of Robin’s mother’s coworker, a teacher at Westlake High School. Each

key had his signature and a kind wish for joy.)

All three children were quiet and well behaved upon approaching the

real Santa. First a picture with all three children, the boys in plaid

jackets, bowties and Robin in her red velvet dress with red hat that

tied under her chin. The hat was the shape of an elongated oval with

it bending in the shape of her head. The Santa and children are all

half smiling, somehow not caught with the merriment quite yet!

Once the photograph was taken, the littlest boy, Ricky, was placed

on the real Santa’s lap. He told his quiet wishes for Christmas to

the contemplative, but kindly Santa. The middle and more outgoing

child, Randy, launched into his complete list of wishes until Santa

said, “Merry Christmas, Randy, Ho Ho Ho!”

At last, Robin approached the real Santa who reached down to help

her climb up so her dress would not climb up on her white tights.

Smoothing her dress, while thinking her thoughts, Santa asked,

“And who is this?”

Robin looked into his twinkling eyes and said, “I’m Robin.”

Santa replied,

“Robin, what do you want for Christmas?”

She answered in her most sincere voice, “A pair of red shoes.”

(At Thanksgiving each year, those fantastic jeweled red shoes

that Glinda, the good witch in Wizard of Oz, wore had made

quite an impression!)

“Ho Ho Ho! And what else is on your Christmas wish list?”

For a moment, all the music, crying babies, and hurrying bustle

quieted and truth be told, Robin answered,

“Peace on Earth.”

Santa thanked her for the wonderful wish and he would try his

best. The family moved out of the center of attention, into the

brilliance of the Santa’s Toyland.

Father had heard those words, mother told Robin years later.

He had been so moved to tears with the simplicity of shoes

and world peace that he had gone shopping the week before

Christmas searching high and low for the best and most

unusual doll for Robin he could find.

(Mother, on the other hand, fulfilled the wish as best she

could by buying a pair of flat red leather shoes. Not shiny nor

jeweled patent leather shoes)

On Christmas morning 1964, with a train circling the beautiful

tree of pink, green and gold balls with other antique ornaments

there were about a dozen gifts. Each was given tags that said,

“Merry Christmas” To: _________

From: Santa Claus.

The family headed to the chimney to choose their handmade

green stockings with pink and white pom pom edgings on

them. Each had a number and then the letter “R.” Robin, as

the oldest had “3 R” on her stocking. Everyone spilled their

own stockings open to find an orange in the toe, chocolates

sprinkled in, (usually Hershey’s kisses) and little toys for girl

and boys. Parents had little wrapped boxes or gifts in theirs.

Children never knew nor watched parents open theirs, too

fixed on the joy of their own stocking’s contents.

Upon studying sizes of boxes and deciding to open the boxes in

order of littlest to biggest, nine year old Robin chose the smallest

box. In it was a member of the “Little Women” family, “Amy”

with her blonde hair, lavender dress and little white pinafore.

This complimented other members of her Madame Alexander six

inch collection started with “Marmee,” the year before. Robin was

fascinated once more with the precious eyes that had eye lashes

which opened and closed.

The next box was a pair of red smooth leather shoes with a strap

that would go over the top of her foot, sometimes called “Mary

Jane” shoes. Robin showed them to mother with a big smile.

The next two gifts were a pretty white  fake fur muff, where girls

in cold, blustery areas would put their hands into.

The  box with a tag that said, in a rugged and scrawly signature,

“Love, Santa,” was at least three feet by one foot long. Robin ripped

the wrapping and discovered a large doll with the name on her box,

“Little Miss Echo.”

Father crossed the room, having helped a brother to add a new train

car to the circling set on the tracks. He said,

“Robin, you can move this button on her sideways, to the left and

talk into her chest. When you say something, this doll will say it

back to you!”

Robin wanted to have her father show her, but knowing he wanted

her to try this on her own, she did. (This was the way you learned

in this family’s house, by doing it on your own. First hand experience!)

She spoke, “Merry Christmas!”

Then she turned the button to the right and out came her voice saying,

“Merry Christmas!”

And it was so much more than merry to Robin! It was full of wonder.

I suppose asking for “Peace on Earth” was inspired by all the Christmas

carols that were playing in stores, on the radio and on our stereo at home.

But my mother did say it brought tears to my father’s eyes and he spent

hours at different stores on more than one evening heading home from

work to find what he thought I “deserved” for saying such a simple request.