LIST Birmingham December 2019





My family loves to watch Christmas movies during the Christmas season. My all-time favorite Christmas movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But we usually watch the “Home Alone”movies, “Elf,”“Miracle on 34th Street,”“The Santa Clause”movies, and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” over and over. Jill loves “White Christmas,” but it is a little too fluffy for me. There is a great scene in “The Santa Clause 2”where Tim Allen’s character pulls a little Santa magic and gives a group of teachers at the faculty Christmas party their favorite toys from their childhoods. For people my age, it was a nostalgic walk down a happy memory lane. I remember well Easy-Bake Ovens and Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots. The scene reminded me of my favorite Christmas present when I was a child: a G. I. Joe fighting man. To the untrained eye, it may look like just a doll (which it was), but to younger boys, it was the ultimate toy. I can’t think of a single friend who didn’t own one. The doll cost $9.86 in 1969. For my family, it was an expensive doll. That may sound strange, but my family had to survive Christmas on the $100 in the Christmas savings account. My mother carefully nurtured that fund with a $2 deposit every week. There were four kids. The Christmas savings account had to buy presents for the six people in our family, plus our grandparents, and pay for the food for all of Christmas Day. But, somehow, my parents always made sure we got the one special gift we wanted. My mom had encouraged me to put other items on my wish list in case Santa could not find me a G. I. Joe. My sisters both told me there was no way I would get this toy. On Christmas morning, we all opened our gifts. I received lots of little things like small toy soldiers, coloring books, etc. but no G. I. Joe. Then everyone looked at me, the youngest, with little tiny smiles and asked if I checked the front porch to make sure Santa didn’t “drop” a present. I was so disappointed, but I reluctantly went to the door. There on the front porch was a gift-wrapped box about 1 foot long. I took it inside with no clue what it was. My mom prompted me to open it just to see what Santa might have “dropped.”To my amazement,

it was not just a G. I. Joe, but a talking G. I. Joe. I don’t know what sacrifices my family made for me to get that toy, but it ranks as one of my all-time favorite Christmas memories. Send me an email and let me know your favorite Christmas movie and favorite Christmas present from when you were a child. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-Melvin Upchurch


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