Gifts of Christmas Past

As a kid, one of the things my dad loved to do in December was drive around the local area and look at Christmas light displays. Back then, Long Island had some pretty impressive displays. Each year involved a trek over to Uniondale to check out the what the Klimczuk's had done.

The Klimczuk family decorated every square inch of their postage stamp sized yard, the sides and top of their garage and the entire front of their house with lights, wooden signs and animated show pieces. It was impressive, even if a little excessive, but their house was definitely one where we would stop the car, park and spend time marveling at what they'd added.

Closer to home, families decorated more sparingly and simply. In his drive back and forth from our house to his the next town over, Dad would take different routes in early December, locating new decorations to view. Along his postal route, he'd note who was decorating and tuck that information away, too.

One year, he was excited that he'd found a new display. A big one. Instead of taking us by this one on our way to one of the local malls, he said we'd go check it out on Christmas Eve before our traditional dinner and movie. It was worthy of parking the car, he said.

So, Christmas Eve rolls around. It is bitterly cold and extremely windy. Living on Long Island, there wasn't a lot of snow in December, but those bitter breezes that came off the ocean could be brutal (let's just say I never knew what it was like to experience no wind until I far inland). We drive up Newbridge Road and can see some lights and get to the corner and can see that a family had decorated almost all of their yard with lighted plastic figures, C7 and C9 strands of lights and serious quantities of blinky blinky lights.

Front and center on their walkway was a Nativity scene, with each person as a separate, light up 3 foot tall plastic figure (except for baby Jesus, of course). Normally, you'd think that this was a solemn moment, contemplating the birth in a manger many years ago.

Instead, the wind had knocked over several participants in that Nativity scene. Mary, Joseph and the animals were still there, looking over the baby in the creche, but the Three Wise Men? They were laid out flat on the frozen ground.

My dad, never one to miss an opportunity for a quip, said "Look, they've got the nativity and who shows up but the three drunken Wise Guys. They must have taken a few hits off that frankincense and myrrh."

Hysterical laughter ensued. All through dinner, one of us would say 'frankincense', 'drunken wise guys' or 'myrrh' and gales of laughter started up again. Months later, we were STILL laughing about it. Then, once that family set up their display the following year, Dad would inform me and Giggles the status of the Wise Guys every day. "Still standing, guess they haven't had any Eggnog yet," and we'd giggle and guffaw.

The other night, Ed and I were driving near our home. A family had set up one of those Nativity scenes. Slightly smaller figures (maybe 2 feet), but again, each major player at the manger is represented by its own lit plastic standee.

The wise men?

They were fallen over. Drunken Wise Guys once again.

I want to know where they're getting their stuff. It must be GOOD to be knocked over this much before December 24th!


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