A plain Christmas, yes, but a memorable oneThe first year we were married, I worked in the newsroom on Christmas Day. I think Nancy had the whole day off. She was working at the hospital, and I was a photographer for the newspaper. Our first child, a daughter, was two and one-half weeks old, and we couldn’t make it home to Chamberlain.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
The first year we were married, I worked in the newsroom on Christmas Day. I think Nancy had the whole day off.
She was working at the hospital, and I was a photographer for the newspaper. Our first child, a daughter, was two and one-half weeks old, and we couldn’t make it home to Chamberlain. Now that I’ve been a grandparent for quite a while, I know how difficult that must have been for my folks and Nancy’s folks. At the time, I just thought it was a bad deal for us, and especially me, because I had to work in the newsroom.
It was a short shift, I have to admit. The newspaper was an afternoon edition in those days, meaning that we gathered the news in the morning, the paper went to press at mid-afternoon, and the carriers were delivering it around the neighborhoods around supper time. My Christmas day assignment that year was obituaries. I had to report in at something like 8 a.m. and hang around until about noon, just in case one of the funeral homes called.
To this day, that’s been one of my least favorite news assignments. Happily for not only me but also many families enjoying the holiday, I received no calls on that Christmas morning trick. That might have been the best gift I could have received, because I’d truly been dreading a call with information about some person’s life, family and scheduled services. When City Editor Bechtold glanced at the clock, pulled a sheet of copy paper from his typewriter and announced that the news staff could leave with his wishes for a Merry Christmas, I was out the back door, down the steps and into the parking lot before the last syllable cleared his lips.
Our ’62 Chevy Impala had never made such a quick trip through the McKennan Park streets to the curb by our little house a block from Cliff Avenue. I had the entire rest of Christmas Day to hang out with Nancy and our incredible baby girl, and I wanted to get started on that as quickly as possible.
You know, I don’t think we did much at all that afternoon and evening. We had a decorated tree next to the front door, and it rather dominated our small living room. We had a few gifts to exchange, and a few gifts to open for our daughter. I suppose she had no idea that anything was going on, although if you asked my mother, she’d tell you that this little baby didn’t miss a trick, and she sure did know what was happening around her every minute.
In those early days in that tiny house, I used to lay our daughter on the couch, get my guitar and sit next to her singing songs. She really did seem to pay attention — to the noise and the movement, I suppose, but still, she was watching and listening to her dad playing music. I probably played a couple of Christmas tunes and maybe a traditional carol or two. More likely in those days I played a few old Johnny Cash songs and every Beatles tune I could fumble through. She always seemed to like it when I sang “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah,” a lot better than she did when I tried something like “Sleigh Ride.” She was a Beatles fan at a very early age, although these days if she sits down to a piano during the holidays, she’s more apt to play the theme from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” than anything from “Abbey Road.”
That’s cool, too. I would have loved to have been able to play that song for her when she was still so young she didn’t even roll to the edge of the couch, she just lay there watching whatever I was doing.
It was our first Christmas together as a family, and as plain as it was, it’s one I’ll not forget. I thought Christmas could never get better. Then we had another baby and later a third, and years later some grandchildren, and Christmas became more and more complete.
I guess that’s part of the miracle they talk about.