There are always thoughtful moments as the holiday season gets closer to its climax. I tend to think of days gone by and mix them with the new memories being made. To see the light in the eyes of a child when you get them away from their electronic accentuated life and take them on a journey of word pictures. Such was the moment I shared with those waiting minds too young to remember the days gone bye.
I remember spending a few days with my cousins in the city and going downtown to see the wonders of the lights and the bustle of the crowds. We took a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh and a leisurely ride through the high-rise buildings, bundled up against the ever-present wind that seemed to whistle down every street. It was a sight so common to those people that they took little note of the wonder around them, a far cry from the meager lights we had around home.
Being raised in a small town, there are things that will always be unknown to the city dwelling relatives until they come to see how the ‘redneck’ part of the family live. They came home with me for a few days and we roamed the streets where I was raised, where the downtown square had some decorations, but other than that it was left to the homeowners to create their displays. We had no carriage or sleigh rental, just our own imaginations to take us from place to place, but the excitement was yet to come.
The sun came out on the day and the temperatures were warm enough for a day in the snow. Not that we got a lot of accumulation like they did up North, but several inches of very wet snow meant that we could break out the warm clothes and get ready for some fun. With the usual division of boys against anyone that happened to come out the door, we had our supply of hand packed missiles raining down on the unsuspecting. This generally prompted a heated exchange unless we had mistakenly picked my mother as a target, in which case we were threatened with no warm food and the truce was negotiated.
Then uncle Frank arrived and I gave them the sign that our next adventure was at hand. Out came the chain attached to a length of high strength tow strap, which was then attached to the rear of his truck. Now it was time for our ‘sleigh’ ride, courtesy of the hood off a vintage car, the origin nearly as lost as the missing paint. This sleigh seated three comfortably so I took the captain’s spot in the center and one of my cousins on each side. Time for a ride, be sure to keep all arms and legs inside the ride at all times and never grab the edge unless you dare lose a finger. Off we’d go down the rural roads, all of us leaning to one side to get the hood to slide into the ditch hoping we didn’t get too wide and catch a farmers fence posts. Back up the banking to the road and around the next corner we’d swing. Amazing how Uncle Frank could maintain just enough speed to keep us dancing like a leaf blown by the wind and yet we seldom hit anything that would cause us to lose our grip and tumble off. By the time we would get back to the house to let another group take their turn, we would be red-faced from the cold and still unable to erase the smile. Hot chocolate and time to tell of the ride we had taken, then we were back in line for the hope of another chance at adventure.