Christmas. The end of the year. It’s time to look back and be nostalgic, right? Like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. But I didn’t grow up in the late 1940s like he did. My childhood was the psychedelic and disco-infused decade of the 1970s.
Enid, Oklahoma, didn’t have big department stores downtown with windows full of toys like where Ralphie first sees his Red Ryder BB gun. Heck, Enid didn’t even have a book store. Can you imagine a city of 45,000 without a book store? But I digress. We had Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Wards and their massive, magical Christmas catalogs. Every year Mom would put those out and me and my sister would pore over them, folding pages and circling items we wanted. I can remember going to the Montgomery Wards pick-up center for boxes, but I don’t remember going to the Sears store for boxes.
One year we were downtown at Woolsworth’s and an employee thought my sister was trying to shoplift because she had a kid’s book under her coat. She was just hiding it from me, though, until she could ask Mom if she could get it for me for Christmas. Mom got mad and we left the store.
Santa Claus came to Enid, but this was before Oakwood Mall opened, so Santa sat in a metal shed temporarily set up in the center of town … on the same property as the county courthouse and jail. We’d wait in line to see him and get a small candy cane after telling him our top wish list item. All of downtown was decorated with lights and tinsel images of snowmen and candles on the light posts.
We mostly had artificial trees that me and my sister would assemble every year. I never really cared for that part. I already did a post about five memorable Christmas gifts, but there were others, like the year I got a small erector set, a Hoppity Horse, and books my mom had to order from the local office supply store. The Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Prydain Chronicles, Where the Red Fern Grows (in hardcover!). One year I got the Six Million Dollar Man action figure (not a doll!) and the rocket that turned into the lab where Steve Austin was put back together. He became buds with GI Joe.
Like Ralphie, one year I did get a Red Ryder BB gun. There was no compass in the stock. I loved that gun! I got it from my dad’s parents, who had a dairy farm in Ripley. After that, every time we went I would roam the farm with the gun, looking for things to shoot. I still have the gun, but it no longer works. It came with a Red Ryder poster, which I unfortunately do not still have.
It was a happy time.