|From our grandparents one Christmas, my siblings and I each received a Steiff puppet: Jocko, Gaty and Witty.|
I use the word Christmas rather than holidays for it was Christmas that my family celebrated. It is our tradition. It is the past to which I return this time every year. It is my personal version of the Twilight Zone where I know it will be the mid-1950s, where my sister will be around five or six years old, my brother around eight or nine and I somewhere between 10 and 12. When our mother isn't looking, we will make compressed balls of the tinsel and toss them at the tree, rather than draping it strand by strand as she instructed. When the lights are on, we will lie on the floor with out heads beneath the branches, and let our wishing minds carry us away.
The three of us have spoken as adults of the brief interlude, perhaps only one year or at the most two, when our mother sought the short-cut of what we called the Ready-Pack Christmas stocking. A dime store standard of scratchy red mesh with a festive, stapled image atop a bag of, well, stuff. We were used to receiving one of our father's socks with a splendid orange in the toe and a handful of personally selected treasures to open in the middle of the wakeful night. We fussed terribly about the indignity of it, though the Ready-Pack gave us a lasting tradition: the Chinese finger trap, ever after one of Santa's constants.
|The Chinese finger trap found its way into the Novelty Items Hall of Fame.|