Thursday, December 10, 2009

“Christmas, Revisited”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was late on a Monday evening in the Icehouse home office. Christmas was only a few weeks away.

At the other end of our house, my wife had become entranced with her online Facebook account. Giggling softly, she worked the soil of a virtual farm while Jay Leno rendered topical jokes on the television.

Powdery breaths of snow filled the window across from my chair. But I was focused on a specific task – locating a newspaper column about holiday experiences from twenty-five years ago.

In yonder days, I stored such files on 1.44 MB diskettes. So finding the manuscript meant sorting through boxes of these relics, patiently.

While searching, I uncovered other past holiday compositions that were compelling, yet not quite what I was seeking:


“On the twelfth day of Christmas, we gave to Mommy… twelve pink RAZR cell phones, eleven pink petunias, ten pink Hello Kitty charms, nine pink Cadillacs, eight 8-Tracks by Pink Lady, seven Pink Panther dolls, six pounds of pink salmon. Five pink lipsticks! Four Pink Floyd CDs, three pink poodle skirts, two pink flamingos, and pink fuzzy slippers from the Dollar Tree!”


“For dinner it’s ham and duck, after a ride in my pickup truck
Then maybe the Jerry Springer show, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
We’re almost buried here, but I’m stocked with snacks and beer
So as the cold winds blow, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
When I finally hit the road, I’ll be glad for my four-by-four
We’ll soon be watching a football game, with cheese dip and crackers, galore
We’ll gather around the Yule log, and mix our brew with eggnog
Thank God for O-hi-o, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”


“Charles Dickens’ classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol’ is familiar to most as part of the Yuletide holiday season. This compelling story carries a message that is both meaningful and timeless. Against the backdrop of modern-day economic chaos, it demonstrates the everlasting value of kindness and gentility. But in eastern Geauga County, the classic parable took on new life when revived by local performers at the Thompson United Methodist Church…”

Finally, after a long period of reviewing e-files on my computer, the article I sought appeared at last:


“The Christmas rush of 1984 was relentless. I had lived in the village (Chardon) for one full year, after sixty-four months in New York. The adjustment back to Midwestern habits had only begun. My humble appearance did nothing to enhance job prospects. Because I had failed to earn a degree in communications, time spent with Cornell University’s Learning Web program, studying television, amounted to nothing. Unsuccessfully, I tried to connect with The Geauga Times-Leader, and our local cable television provider. While strolling around the square, I would visit Zamer’s Music to discuss guitars and musical trends. It was difficult to guess where my life was headed. But I had much enthusiasm for tomorrow!

After a stalled career with American Seaway Foods in Bedford Heights, I yielded to other horizons. When my VW Beetle finally expired, travel to work depended on a dull Chevrolet Chevette. (Truly an awful winter vehicle!) Fortunately, employment was not far away. I spent gainful hours at the local Fisher’s Big Wheel. Service to this Newcastle, Pennsylvania retailer began a path toward greater things. Because Conley’s was our only competitor, customer traffic kept us busy. Neither store had the overwhelming presence of a Wal-Mart. (Yet) taken together, they quietly fulfilled our needs. It was a balance of sorts that kept the community satisfied. Typically, life moved at a gentle pace for employees in Maple Leaf Plaza. But visitation by St. Nick and Rudolph caused the pulse of local shoppers to intensify on cue! Business turned explosive with the approach of Yuletide merriment. During the season, we were a different store.

Employees at Big Wheel were rewarded with a turkey, or ham, in the spirit of Yuletide generosity. This provided extra sales for our neighbor, Valu-King. Each year, they provided the actual foodstuffs with competence, and care. A volunteer gift-exchange added to the mood of goodwill. Still, our moment of real celebration was the annual Noel bash at Grandview Country Club. The night of fellowship offered a release from workplace duties.

Christmas Eve brought my own chance to procure holiday gifts. As final moments of anticipation ticked away, I carried a red shopping basket around the store. It was a ritual that brought comfort, and peace. My paycheck (for two weeks) evaporated quickly.

But focus on the joyous duty whisked away cares from the year. Each selection represented the expenditure of a trivial sum. But the love conveyed was greater, by far.

Out of festive chaos, I had rediscovered the meaning of this ancient tradition.
New challenges waited as the last of December ebbed away. While mopping floors and unloading deliveries, these hopeful thoughts were persistent. I daydreamed of using my media experience to benefit the company. It was unthinkable to be content with an entry-level position. I had been a freelance writer, and worked regularly for a motorcycle publication in California. Anything seemed possible.

(My) willingness to experiment produced a zigzag course over the years. Yet my footsteps have always returned home. The spirit of that holiday on Water Street has endured through time.”

Liz finished tilling her cyberspace farmland as I completed my column on personal holiday lore. We were both ready for our bed, and restful slumber.

“I planted corn and wheat, after harvesting a field of grapes tonight,” she boasted. “How about you?”

My sense of satisfaction was obvious. “I time-traveled like Doctor Who, through old columns for The Maple Leaf. And then, made it all the way home again!”

She nodded with amusement. “Welcome back, Rodney!”

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