Ghosts Of Christmas Pasts — 1965

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When I was a small child, my parents owned a motel. It had twelve units and we lived in an apartment over the lobby/restaurant smack dab in the middle of the thing. We had a small porch off the front of the place.

This is important information because on that front porch — my dad — a tool maker in a former life — designed and built a revolving Christmas tree. I remember he put it up and it’s base was a giant wooden spool, the kind that held cable back in those days. The tree was smaller than the one in our living room and only just had colored lights on it, but in 1965 not many people went in for lavish exterior displays. My dad was cutting edge.

But he didn’t stop there.

On our lawn he built a larger than life-sized Santa, sleigh and reindeer out of plywood. He motorized Santa’s arm so it waved at everyone and lit the whole thing with bright flood lights. The glow from our house was visible a block away.

But wait, there’s more.

On the exterior of our house my dad mounted huge speakers and played Christmas carols. Constantly. He somehow rigged this external sound system up to my mother’s stereo and the whole neighborhood got to hear Dean Martin crone out “Baby, it’s cold outside” every evening. My mother was a huge Dean Martin fan.

My dad wasn’t really into Christmas per se. But he loved to tinker. My mother was the Christmas person in our family. And looking back, in hind sight, I can see he did all of this to make her happy. He once shared with me that he could never bring himself to tell her that he loved her.

What he never realized is that he already had.

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