I also said holidays like Christmas are becoming more of a family event than a religious celebration. And like most Americans, I believe in being with your loved ones over the holidays.
Thanksgiving is maybe my favorite holiday this time of year.
Why? It’s basically Christmas minus the gifts and with less hassle and more football. It’s got the same meal – turkey and gravy – I love it.
Gifts are always an issue, especially for the young ones. Remember when you didn’t get what you’d dreamed of getting? I do.
My father told me if I got a B average he’d buy me a mini-bike for Christmas. Wow. I was 14, played freshman football at Meadowbrook and lived outside the school district, so I had a long haul to school. It was a long walk and a long bike ride.
Plus all the cool kids had mini bikes.
Remember? I think they were called Rupp Mini Bikes and they were fast. With five horsepower they could go 45 miles an hour. Zoom!
My brother Jeff was an A student and a much better ball player. Later he would be the J-V quarterback at Shawnee Mission East. He was promised a nice 10 speed bike for all A’s. We both hit the mark, Jeff got an A average and me a B. Man, was I excited, maybe as much as I ever was in my life.
I’d get my mini bike that morning, maybe wake up and see it in my room. I knew it would be gold – most of the cool faster ones were gold. I’d never wear that stupid helmet, well maybe just to make Mom happy. And my girlfriend would fall madly in love with her man on his mini bike. I’d be the coolest kid in 9th grade.
Finally a BIG WIN.
It must have been around 5 A.M. Christmas morning when I heard a noise that woke me up. I looked up from my bed and there on my kids desk was a typewriter. It must be a nightmare, I thought. So I went back to sleep and woke up again at 6 A.M. Yep, still just a typewriter.
The deal I’d made with my dad was broken. All the kids at school would think I was a jerk. No mini bike.
A couple years later Jeff was given the gold mini bike for all A’s and being the starting quarterback in 9th grade. I never did get one. Jeff let me ride his on rare occasion. It was a big blow at the time. My dad told me it was for my own good.
Funny, as time went by I did buy a small Harley.
One day I was riding it to practice and had Alan Cosner on the back seat going down Calvin’s Hill and hit a sand trap near the road. My bike dipped and I hit my knee on the gravel. It took my knee cap off. No more major sports. At least not any I was ever going to be good at again.
I never wanted a bike again – too dangerous. Hah.
I became a decently fast typist. Most kids didn’t type in those days and later it was a major help. Not just in school but when I got to prison.
My last couple years in the slammer I was sent to a prison camp where about 800 men lived in the desert of Boron,. California. Edwards Air Force Base used inmates for cheap labor and they had a request from material control for a guy who could type fast. You had to be 18 months short (from going home) to work at the Air Base and I was just over 24 months short. But I typed nearly 90 words a minute and got the job. It got me 8 hours of freedom a day for five days a week. Nice.
So you never know.
Sometimes your worst moments can become good ones later.
We all have stories about things we wished for but never got. Often it was at Christmas. Still I have to admit, I sure did want that mini bike.