Away in a Manger

When I was a kid, Christmas time meant the usual stuff to me, Santa, gift-giving and supper or lunch at both sets of grandparents’ houses amongst other things. Besides those things, the BEST THING about Christmas was when Dad hollered “Load up!” and all piled into the family car. Those two words, “load up!”, meant not only were we going somewhere, but since it was Christmas time, it meant we would go on a ride all over Fort Worth and look at the Christmas lights and yard displays at homes throughout Cowtown.

Dad always had a plan when we rode around looking at the sights of the season. We’d start out in our neighborhood then kind of fan out to other parts of Fort Worth. After going through several middle class areas of town, we’d stop at a Drive In hamburger joint and scarf down a burger and fries, then hit the road again. But now, we were going to see the lights in the neighborhoods where the “rich”, or my idea of rich, folks lived. I can still remember one of the “nicer” neighborhoods that we toured over fifty years ago like it was yesterday.

The first place we went to after eating was the neighborhood surrounding the school where I went to first grade – Springdale Elementary and Mary Gill was my teacher. This area was an “Oh, wow!” area. To a little boy, the Christmas lights and yard displays were awe-inspiring. Not only did the homes have the cool lights and yard stuff, but some of the yard displays actually moved! Oh, wow! I can still picture one of the homes’ decorations in my mind. There were lighted candy canes all aglow, a manger scene and a Santa’s sleigh with all the reindeer, including Rudolph and his red nose. But the amazing thing to me was that the reindeer moved as if they were actually pulling Santa’s sleigh! Oh, wow! On subsequent  trips to this neighborhood during the Yuletide season, I would always pay extra close attention to see if ant other houses were as cool as the “Oh, wow!” house I just described. But nothing was ever as cool as that house and it’s animated Santa sleigh and reindeer thing.

One more very vivid memory of this neighborhood is of Sue Ann Hunt, my very first real girlfriend. Sue Ann was also in Mrs. Gill’s first grade class with me. She was the prettiest girl in first grade and she was my girlfriend. We were inseparable. Over the years, I have often thought about Sue Ann and what became of her. Where ever she is, I’m sure she’s still the prettiest girl in the neighborhood. Merry Christmas, Sue  Ann.   🙂 

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