With all the hustle and bustle that we are all engaged in during this time of year, shopping, wrapping, writing cards, decking the halls and planning menus, I haven’t had time to write anything in this blog over the last couple of weeks. So, I thought that what I would do is to post a couple Christmas stories that I included in Christmas letters several years ago but with a few editorial additions.
The Ghost of Christmas Presents
It was our second Christmas as a married couple, which makes the date 1974 (yes, I know, practically prehistoric times). That year, Larry and I decided that instead of giving each other presents, we would wait until after Christmas and buy something for our apartment that we would both enjoy. As most young couples starting out, our material possessions were extremely limited. One of those limitations was our television set, a black and white, hand-me-down that worked only on odd Tuesdays between 6 to 9 a.m. In those early years we spent the Christmas holidays sliding around Michigan’s snow-covered roads visiting our respective relatives.
After enjoying the color television sets at the homes of our various relations, returning to our “slap the tubes into submission” black and white dinosaur, we had the answer of what we wanted for Christmas – a new color television set. (Now for many of you reading this I know that the concept of a black and white television set is not something you can even wrap your head around, but stay with me on this).
With the enthusiasm and lack of forethought and logic that only the young can exhibit, we headed out to the nearest appliance store. We bought a 27 inch, cherry-wood console, color television set (again, in those days we are talking state of the art and the biggest TV set that was made, so for all you young readers, suspend your disbelief of what I am saying and understand that I am not exaggerating, that really and truly was state of the art stuff). It was beautiful. It was big. It was also very heavy . . . Did I mention that it was very big and very heavy?
Instead of opting for the sensible thing – having the darned thing delivered – we decided to take it home ourselves so that we could enjoy it for the remainder of our holiday vacation. Somehow the sales people managed to stuff the huge wooden crate the TV console was packaged in into the car’s trunk – cars were much bigger in those days. (yes, you read it right, I did say wooden crate, not a large cardboard box with Styrofoam. It really was a giant wooden crate, and cars had huge trunks that a giant wooden crate would actually fit into). Did I mention that the crate was very big and very heavy?
When we got to our apartment building reality set it. All of our fellow apartment dwellers were still away on their holiday visits with their respective relatives. It was late evening and a steady, icy drizzle was falling. The distance between the parking lot and the front door of the building was considerable and our apartment was two flights up. We had a crate-sized problem. I’m still not sure how we lifted the crate out of the trunk. Did I mention that it was very big and very heavy? Time has a merciful way of erasing really unpleasant events from our memory banks. I do know, however, that a lot of huffing and puffing, and a whole lot of cursing was involved in the operation.
Once we got the cursed crate our of the car trunk we slid an old blanket underneath the crate. Now when I say slid, I don’t mean to imply an easy process, but it was relatively speaking an easier feat than lifting that monster out of the trunk.
Between tugging, pulling, and a whole lot of more cursing, we eventually got the crate inside the foyer area of the apartment building. Eyeballing the width of the stairs and girth of the crate, even to two spatially moronic and challenged individuals such and Larry and myself, things were not looking good. If we were going to get the TV up those stairs we would first have to free it from its wooden prison. This was a problem. You see, the tool repertoire of newly-wed, apartment dwellers consists of one (small) hammer; one (small) screw driver; one (small) Phillips screw driver; and maybe, one (again, small) pair of pliers. And what we needed for this job was one LARGE crow bar. But never underestimate the power of desperation. We put our meager collection of small and inadequate tools to the test.
Later, much later, after scrapping our fingers and bending our tools, we freed our beautiful, new, big, and, did I mention heavy, TV set from its wooden cage. This got rid of some of the excess bulk and some of the weight, but we still had a large and heavy TV console to somehow get up two flights of stairs. Painstakingly, one at a time, we struggled up those stairs with our new TV set, which was starting to get older by the minute.
Getting the TV from the car to our living room took many hours. By the time it was over, it was around 2 a.m. Exhausted but eager to try out our new purchase, we searched for a channel that was still broadcasting at that late hour (OK, stop it. Yes, in those almost pre-historic times many TV stations did not broadcast 24 hours a day). We finally succeeded and found an old Errol Flynn movie called “Captain Blood.” We nestled ourselves on our sofa and settled in to enjoy that charming and campy old swashbuckler, a black and white movie, on our brand new color TV set.