As Christmas fast approaches, I look back fondly on some of my own Christmases growing up. A few stand out in my memory: the year when I was about 7 that it actually snowed on Christmas morning in Tucson, Arizona (a true Christmas miracle), or the time Santa brought me a new olive-green Schwinn, which was approximately the size of a Cadillac Escalade. Clearly this bike was for an adult, but at the age of 9 I was glad to have such a rocking, pimped out bike. The handlebars spanned approximately 5 feet from handle to handle. I would later lose my virginity to that bike when I coasted downhill, hit a rock and the bike stopped, while my body catapulted forward and I landed spread eagle smack on the green metal bar that held the monster bike together. I couldn't walk for days.
One of my favorite holidays however, may have been Christmas, 1985. I had recently turned 16 and for my birthday, my parents had gifted me with my grandmother's 1974 four-door Cutlass Supreme (oddly enough, also in Olive Green). That ride was not unlike driving an army tank, and I treated it as such driving over mailboxes, cacti and through the desert at breakneck speed (usually while guzzling a California Cooler - I know, not "cool" at all). What I remember most about that year was that my parents, who were clearly "over" trying to guess what to get me, showered me and my sister with $500 gift certificates to the Mall. You'd think we'd have opened the Arc of The Covenant when we were presented with our mall loot. My sister and I looked at each other like the cats who just ate the canary and we knew we would hop into my army tank and hit the mall the next day, leaving a trail of destruction in our paths.
The next day we put on our best Forenza over-sized sweaters (always flattering for a chubby teen) and black stretch pants, plenty of gel in our hair, put on my Simple Lives "Once Upon A Time" tape in my new state-of -the-art tape deck, rocked out to "Alive and Kicking" and headed to the mall. On the way, my older sister had the audacity to whip out a joint (obviously a gift from one of her rebellious friends) and we parked behind a "Grandys" and lit it up. The mixture of bad weed and the Simple Minds tape was really the peak of pleasure for a 16 year old in 1985. Immediately after, we were unable to resist the smell of the Grandy's Chicken and Biscuit platter (with mashed potatoes), which might have been the best holiday meal of all times. Later that day, happy and full we sauntered through Tucson Mall like we were Ivanna Trump flaunting our gift certificates in exchange for Guess zipper jeans, acid washed denim mini skirts and lacy body suits. It was awesome. Merry Christmas.