Holiday Central

11/28/16 - posted by Tim Dineen - tdineen<at>

There are a score of threads about Christmas, here, but there's always room for another. Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. It starts right after my favorite food-holiday; actually melding the two together, since we start decorating on Black Friday with carols blaring and turkey soup summering on the stove. As kids, we spent an inordinate amount of actual Christmases in Bakersfield with my grandparents. Pop would load up the station wagon with all the gifts and somehow get bicycles, wagons, and lord knows what else down there without us knowing. Highway 99 down the valley - Manteca, Turlock, Merced, Chowchilla... By the time we reached Fresno, we were ready to die. Tulare, Delano... By the time we reached Oildale, we started perking up, a bit. Almost there!!! It was a 6-hour drive. A lifetime for kids packed into a station wagon. We read if it didn't make us carsick, sang songs, played games - and fought with one another until Pop was swinging his arm behind him, whacking whichever kid happened to be unlucky enough to be within his reach. And always a stop for lunch along the way. Drive-in's were plentiful in those pre-McDonald's days and Foster's Freeze was my favorite, although we generally stopped at nondescript hamburger joints where the burgers were cheap and the fries perfectly greasy - with real soda fountain cokes. I usually got a cherry coke, but would sometimes be adventurous and get a vanilla coke. Lots of crushed ice... Christmas Dinner was always turkey. No standing rib roasts or other highfalutin stuff for us. Turkey, stuffing, canned sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans - not the casserole. It was always a quick trip because Pop almost always had to be at the firehouse December 26th. A lot of late-night drives with all the kids sleeping. And we'd come home to our own tree, stockings still hung on the mantle, and usually a few gifts that Santa left at our house knowing we'd be back. Fast-forward and here I am, today, thinking about those thrilling days of yesteryear - while decorating the house from wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, inside-and out. There is no such thing as too many decorations. And no shortage of Christmas memories.

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