My turn

Christmas memories of Aunt Judy, gift wrapping and Santa jingling

2013-12-22T00:00:00Z Christmas memories of Aunt Judy, gift wrapping and Santa jinglingBy Bill Vargo Times Columnist
December 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Whenever we get this close to Christmas Day, I always think of my Aunt Judy. Oh, I think of her at other times of the year, too, but at this time of the year she was at her most focused.

Judy didn’t like to shop at any time but those two or three most frenetic days of the year. Nobody that I know ever went with her, so we don’t know if she was like a little gerbil running from counter to counter. In my mind’s eye, she was calm and detached, focused on the task at hand.

She has been gone for 15 years, but that image is still imbedded in my brain. I was never that cool and collected. Any thought of a massive shopping spree close to Christmas sends shivers down my spine.

You have to have the heart of a true shopper to be able to do that. Somehow, on Christmas Eve, her tree would be full and the presents wrapped and put snugly under the tree.

If you are one of those types of shoppers, you have my admiration and sympathy at the same time. This weekend, the expert wrapper in me will come out. I won’t use any rulers or protractors to get the most precise fit of paper to box. It would be nice if I had that kind of time.

How do you wrap a basketball without it being obvious that it isn’t a pair of socks or a book?

There are cookies to be baked for Santa, too. Fortunately for Santa, my wife will make those. He would probably not make it too far on my baking skills. Those stockings have to be hung with just the right care.

All this talk of Aunt Judy reminds me of something that happened when I was in high school. I had one of those flip clocks where the panel would rise up and the minute panel would change or the hour based on where it was in the cycle.

It operated on the same concept as a clock with arms. If you were lying in bed just so, the clock would make a jingling sound. Anyway, it was Christmas Eve and we had one of those wonderful snowfalls that create a sort of fluffy blanket muffling almost all sound.

At about 11 o’clock at night, the house was completely still. No sounds, no stirring, nothing. I hear the tinkling sound, but push it to the back of my mind and return to sleep. Not five minutes later, it suddenly dawned on me what the sound was. It had to be. . .Santa!

I practically fell out of bed because those darn bed covers got tangled and I am sure, if memory serves me, that I made a thud when I hit the floor. Recovering my senses, I heard the jingles again. I ran to the window and threw open the curtains, but there wasn’t a sleigh in sight.

He may have already landed on my roof, but I couldn’t tell. Mom had always said that Santa doesn’t come if you are awake.

Thirty years later, I still remember the response of my parents and my sisters, mild amusement probably with thoughts of my mental well-being. My Aunt Judy would have said that a person who really believes in Christmas will always hear jingling on Christmas Eve.

Today, when I walk past those clocks in antique stores, I remember that beautiful night, nary a creature was stirring.

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