Christmas memories are like episodes of Madmen– face it, they’re all awesome, just in their own unique ways.
There was one lovely Christmas in Maine when I was working at Bay Lines and pulled the Downbay PM shift, which in the days leading up to Christmas looked like one of the more desire able shifts, given its 13:45 report time. It left you plenty of time to do presents and then lunch before throwing on the steel toes and heading out. Working on Christmas sucks, no matter how you slice it- but like with most things in life that are a bummer, try your best to make it suck the least and you should be okay.
As I drove into work, the snow started.
Commercial Street, which would have been quiet that day anyway and for the most part is from October until May, had reached a Ghost Town level of quiet. There was no one out and we were able to walk in the middle of the street with drifts and snow forming around us as we trudged to Maggie’s for a cup of coffee. The snow wasn’t letting up and it likely wouldn’t until the night was over. It was going to get worse before it was going to get better and around 14:15 we shoved off into sideways snow and a frost tipped wind ripping across the bow. The windows of the pilothouse danced between fogging up and icing over. We couldn’t see shit.
On the way home, I saw a car in the middle of a snow bank in between the two sides of Franklin Street. It was a minivan- white with wood paneling. I would have stopped but if I had the Super Trooper would likely have ended up right next to it.
When we were younger, Erin would have me do reconnaissance work starting around 5am Christmas morning. It was a tricky mission. If you looked down the stairs you could usually tell if the stockings were full and if the stockings were full, it only meant one thing…we’re good to go. Unfortunately every time I tried to do this I was interrupted by Dad.
“Go back to bed, Ryan.”
I’d go back to bed and pick up the phone. Erin was on the other line and I’d quickly tell about the stockings before the beeping started and the operator came on, telling us to please try our call again.
Gram was funny at Christmas because she was never shy about saying what she felt and as a result, had funny reactions when opening presents. She would usually forget who the present was from while opening it and would have to ask after it was opened. We’d tell her not once, not twice, but usually three times on account of her poor hearing. It would get to a point where no one else in the family could open presents while she was because she would get distracted and if that happened, we’d all be done and there’d be nothing under the tree but seven presents for Gram and three for Mom, who spent the majority of the morning tending after Gram.
I remember going to the Village after church on Christmas Eve. The Village was a large Italian restaurant that used to be in Portland. It had a distinct smell to it- not a bad smell or a good smell. It just had a definitive aroma.
Christmas taught me how to rock the shit out of gift certificates. That might have ended up being good real world training.
Getting blocks of blank cassette tapes was always a fan favorite. It was the gift that kept on giving and I’m not going to brag, but I certainly knew my way around a good mix tape.
The funny thing about Christmas now is that I totally want the kind of gifts that are frequently used as jokes pertaining towards typical dude presents. Come Christmas morning, if I have a couple new white t-shirts, some new socks and a new collared shirt or two- I’m stoked. I can’t really think of anything else I want besides maybe AES to wipe out my student loans or to get the Super Trooper back. I’m really just looking forward to the downtime that comes with Christmas. Sleeping in is a present I’m looking forward to this year.
Ryan harbors a constant fear of losing his keys, prefers flip flops, and will always choose cereal if it’s an option. He maintains his own blog, Giddy Up America, and has previously contributed work to UPROXX & Heavy. Ryan is on Twitter: @ryanoconnell79
This article originally appeared in Dec. 2011.