“So what can you tell us about your first Christmas as a married couple?  What was different or unusual that you can remember?  Any special memories of that day–or that season?”

“Let me try to recall.  Y’know that was fifty Christmases ago…  If I go back…”

christmas with jan and marilynChristmas Photo

“That picture is an early one with my sister and my cousin.  We were always together, like The Three Musketeers.”

“But your first Christmas of marriage.  Do you have a picture of that?”

“How about this one?  I was really cute in this one.”

jimmy's christmas

Jimmy’s Christmas Photo

“No.  That is not what I need for the article.  What else do you have?”

“Those old pictures from 1963 must have been with my Argus C3 and were slides.”

ARGUS C3 Photo Credit: Wikipedia

“That was a wonderful camera.  I think I got it as a Christmas present in 1957 or 1958.  I don’t have those slides anymore.  But I do have some black and white pictures of Garfield Boulevard if you want to see them.  No?  Well, sorry about 1963.  I know I took pictures.”

“Please.  I’d like you to tell me what you remember about 1963.”

“I remember one Christmas when I was in grade school.  It was so warm that we walked to Midnight Mass at Saint Justin Martyr.  I remember wearing a pink shirt and dark tie–or maybe it was the other way around.  Anyhow, no snow and warm.”  [1954: 45 degrees]

“Our Christmas in 1963 was a cold one [26 degrees].  In 1966 we were living in Minnesota.  But Chicago had worse weather–and people remember The Storm of 1967: lots of snow.” 

Chicago Snowstorm 1967 Sun Times http://www.suntimes.com

“My new wife and I lived in Arlington Heights in 1963.  We had a three-room apartment: living room, kitchen, and bedroom.  And bath, of course.  A nice new apartment building.  I remember that address: 222 North Salem.  I can remember most of my addresses where I lived.  Most.

“Anyhow, we had a small tree in the corner of the living room.  Our first tree, a “Charlie Brown Tree.”

charlie-brown-christmas-tree-jpg1 Charlie Brown Tree

“Everyone seems to have had a tree like that.  Probably that tree we relate to–and why Charles Schulz was so successful.  We all have those common memories.”

Charles Schulz from Wikipedia

“Anyhow.  My dad always had a surprise for us or for the family.  One year he gave my mom a watch, in a box of Fanny May chocolates. 

Fanny May Chocolates for Gifts

“He always put an envelope on the tree for each of us, with a little money inside.  One year–and it is memorable–I got an Underwood portable typewriter.  That was 1956.  I used it through high school and college.  I still have it; it still works.”

underwood typewriterPhoto of My Underwood Leader

“I can’t remember many presents or gifts under that Charlie Brown tree in 1963.  I do remember a black tie-tack and an umbrella.  And the homemade coffee table made by my new wife’s brother Dave.  Mosaic squares.  Lasted a long time.  A high school shop project, I think.  But the most special present was not to arrive for another eight months: our first son.”

“Well, thank you.  I must go now.  I appreciate your time and your memories.”

“Y’know, since ’63 we’ve had many trees and presents.  Oh, and a cold, nose-numbing, stay-inside-and-keep-warm Christmas: 1973.  In western Minnesota, -16 degrees, without the wind.  That was some Christmas!”

“And that’s about all…for now.”

© James F. O’Neil

 TREE 2013Christmas Tree in 2013

  1. mcwoman said:

    I was in sixth grade wearing stirrup stretch pants and a big, woolly mohair pink sweater on weekends, parochial navy blue uniform on school days.

  2. Thanks. Uniforms: still around, though not wool in Florida. Some of the charter school kids wear them. Though, wasn’t it the Catholics that started it all? Those nuns…

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