On this Christmas Eve I am with my wife, our son, and my mother-in-law. On the television is TNT network’s annual 24 Hours of “A Christmas Story.” A couple of weeks ago I posted about the personal meaning of the 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Bob Clark’s film drawn from Jean Shepherd’s humorous novel based on his childhood also holds personal meaning for me.
Tonight we are in Melbourne, Florida, near where we lived thirty years ago. That Christmas season we first watched “A Christmas Story” on television, which also was the first time we saw it at all. Lisa was carrying our second daughter, Mary Elisabeth. We were happily excited about her impending arrival, which would be just a few weeks later . Her then four-year-old sister, Kimberly, had specifically asked – maybe prayed – for a blonde, blue-eyed sister.
We watched the film at my in-laws’ rental apartment, probably a couple weeks before the holiday, and I found it as classically humorous as I still do today. I had become familiar with Shepherd’s storytelling while listening to his syndicated radio broadcast some fifteen years earlier, and it was a joy to see his characters come to life.
In 1985 I was practicing law in my solo office here, in Melbourne. Among my clients were my in-laws, who had bought a new home, and I would be handling the closing in January.
I now have to admit that I remember few details about the Christmas holiday itself some thirty years ago. A few weeks later the real milestone for me happened: the birth of our new girl, Mary Elisabeth. Blonde and blue-eyed as her sister had wished, and confirmng my recollection of high-school genetics lessons. I have brown eyes and very dark brown hair; I knew that my father had hazel eyes, so of course I carried that as a recessive characteristic. I was unaware of the hidden blonde gene, but here was the baby to prove it was there in my DNA.
Two days later I helped my in-laws close on their new house, where some of us are spending Christmas Eve thirty years later. Our girls – women to be sure, but in some sense always girls to their father – are with their husbands in North Carolina, where they remained after their parents and brother moved to Ohio seven years ago.
Merry Christmas, Mary Elisabeth! Merry Christmas, Kimberly! Merry Christmas, Micah!