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Richard Mize: Let memories flood my soul for Christmas

Richard Mize
Richard Mize

Christmastime is for reminiscing, and with all the plumbing pandalerium, appliance ado, and general alarums and excursions at my house — still not completely over 50 days after a subterranian pipe bust on Halloween Night! — I'm going to skip remembering and go straight for nostalgia.

Join me in a return stroll down Christmas Memory Lane. This column first appeared Dec. 27, 2014. Merry Christmas, y'all.

It’s Christmas Day as I write this at my desk at home, just after 4 p.m.

The only sounds are my hunt-and-pound typing fingers and thumb, and the revelry and mischief of the You’ll-Shoot-Your-Eye-Out movie on TBS for the umpteenth time drifting down the hallway from the front room (I never liked the uppity-sounding “great room”).

It's been the quietest Christmas Day ever. Our nest has never been emptier.

Our kids and the Grandest Child Ever are more 400 miles away near Houston — OK, 432 miles exactly — but we visited them last week.

My brother is in Sequoyah County; one sister is in Van Buren, Arkansas, my other sister and brother-in-law are in Terrell, Texas. We’ll see them soon. And we’ll head to Wichita Falls, Texas, in a few days to see my wife’s folks.

It’s all good. The timing just had us home alone today, and we’re actually enjoying the pause.

It is a pause for reflection, it turns out — for thinking about house and home.

My older brother, Carl, posted a picture on Facebook this morning of the neighbor boy, his buddy Rayce, and his new minibike — in a spot I have not laid my eyes on in so long I honestly cannot remember the last time: The living room of the house I started growing up in, which is next door to the house I finished growing up in, where my brother lives now, near Muldrow.

What a time portal! Of course, I saw what used to be.

The wood floor, now covered with carpet, and the floor furnace where as a toddler I toppled over and burned, leaving scars on my back that lasted through high school; a 1970s Zenith console that used to be where a thin wide-screen TV is now; the china cabinet that would have been in the back of the picture, in the dining room — and Daddy’s desk, which used to be in a spot where I swear, your honor, I SAW SANTA in the wee hours of a late-1960s Christmas morning.

Santa Claus. Not somebody pretending. Not a person. Santa, standing just about as tall as the desk — an elf. Santa himself is an elf. I saw him with my own two 4- or 5-year-old eyes from bed in the next room. I am convinced that I would pass a lie detector test.

And then Facebook struck again: A friend had posted: “What’s one of your most magical Christmas Eve memories?”

And without even thinking much, I posted: “Living through Christmas 1971. In the hospital. With spinal meningitis. I was in the hospital for nine days through Christmas and New Year’s Day. When I finally got to come home, so many family and friends had left so many toys for me, I thought our living room had become a TG&Y.”

It was then, actually, that all those long-gone things not in that new picture of the old house — and Santa, circa 1968-69 — came to mind, as well as some others:

The dining table, used only for company, and homework; Daddy’s pipe stand with a tobacco jar, on his desk; the telephone, also on his desk.

The Telephone. Rotary, black, heavy, serious: When it rang, there was always news, good or bad. Our number was 6-3138. My brother remembers when the phone number was SPruce 3138. Our ring on a four-party line: two longs and a short. My oldest sister remembers that the ring was four shorts on an eight-party line.

By now, my editor — and you — are wondering what my point is. The point is it’s Christmas Day as I write this, just after 5 p.m., and it’s quiet enough for precious memories — how they linger, how they ever flood my soul. In the stillness of Christmas twilight, precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Richard Mize

Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked... Read more ›

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