“Santa was sliding me off his knee and toward the red chute, and I could see behind me another white-faced kid bobbing upward.
“‘I want a Red Ryder BB gun with a special Red Ryder sight and a compass in the stock with a sundial!’ I shouted.
“‘HO-HO-HO! YOU’LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT, KID. HO-HO-HO! MERRY CHRISTMAS!’
“Down the chute I went….”
“Dawn came. As the gray light crept around the shades and over the quilt, I was suddenly and tinglingly awake. Stealthily I dressed in my icy maroon corduroy knickers, my sheepskin coat, and my plaid sweater. I pulled on my high-tops and found my mittens, crept through the dark living room, fragrant with Christmas tree, and out onto the porch. Inside the house the family slept the sleep of the just and the fulfilled.
“During the night a great snow had fallen, covering the gritty remains of past snowfalls. The trees hung rich and heavy with fluffy down…. Overnight the temperature had dropped thirty degrees or more, and the brittle, crackling air was still and clean, and it hurt the lungs to breathe it. The temperature stood at perhaps fifteen to twenty below zero, cold enough to make the telephone wires creak and groan in agony. From the eaves of the front porch gnarled crystal icicles stretched all the way to the drifts on the buried lawn.
“I trudged down the steps, barely discernible in the soft fluff, and now I stood in the clean air, ready to consummate my great, long, painful, ecstatic love affair. Brushing the snow off the third step, I propped up a gleaming Red Ryder target, the black rings and bull’s-eye standing out starkly against the snowy whiteness. Above the bull’s-eye Red Ryder watched me, his eyes following my every move. I backed off into the snow a good twenty feet, slammed the stock down onto my left kneecap, holding the barrel with my mittened left hand, flipped the mitten off my right and, hooking my fingers in the icy carbine lever, cocked my blue-steel buddy for the first time. I heard the BB click down into the chamber; the spring inside twanged sharply, and with a clunk she rested taut, hard, and loaded in my chapped, rapidly bluing hands.
“For the first time I sighted down over that cold barrel, the heart-shaped rear sight almost brushing my nose and the blade of the front sight wavering back and forth, up and down, and finally coming to rest sharply, cutting the heart and laying dead on the innermost ring. Red Ryder didn’t move a muscle, his Stetson flaring out above the target as he waited. Slowly I squeezed the frosty trigger.”
Below I’ve accumulated all my photo galleries from this year’s “Days to Christmas” series. Click the links above each gallery if you would like to see the original posts and the quotations I selected to go with them.
Thanks for reading, and taking a look … and: