Christmas Story New England
by a. j. Lombardi Copyright © 2022 All Rights Reserved
Winters get cold in New England, and when there is snow it may get even colder! My town was small and quaint. Most of the folks that lived there were there because their parents and grandparents came from that same little town. The town square was typical New England style with a white steeple church, library, town hall, post office, bank, barbershop, and more. Each year at Christmas, the old fashion gas lamp style street lights would be arrayed in Christmas wreaths and red bows. In front of the Town hall was a good-sized manger scene.
Many of the shops in town would play Christmas music. “It was great to be down at the main street and hear the beautiful music as you walked along!” The local hardware store had about twelve plastic life-sized choirboys all lit up. Beautiful Christmas music played and looked like it was being sung by the plastic-lit-up choirboys. Christmas would not be the same without that display and the memories it gave to everyone who grew up in that town. Knowing that the display was put up each year gave me a certain sense that everything was just as it should be!
About three days before Christmas, my friend Joey asked me if I could help him deliver papers a couple of days before Christmas. He usually did the paper route alone but at Christmas time the papers were loaded with so many flyers that each paper seemed to weigh at least twenty-five percent more. I agreed to give Joey a hand if he paid me two dollars! He did, and on a snowy late afternoon, we loaded about two hundred evening papers on Joey’s sled and started our route. It begins to get dark early in New England during the winter months.
At around six P.M. we were about halfway through. Joey then told me that the hardest part of the route was coming up. There was a very long street that was more of a hill. That evening, we noticed that many cars were unable to make it up the hill due to the heavy fallen snow. We decided that going up the hill we would deliver papers on one side and coming down deliver them on the other side. After about half an hour of drudging up the slippery hill, we now had the easy part of going down the hill on the other side.
Joey had his sled holding some of the papers and I had my own sled for myself. It was decided that I would lead going down the hill. Lying face down on my sled, my boots hung over the back. I then slipped my boots into the front openings of Joey’s sled. We sort of made what was called a train. In that Joey still had a stack of papers he sat upright and placed the paper bag on his lap. Unfortunately, the hill was a lot steeper and more slippery than I ever thought it would be. As we shoved off, I could feel the strong tugging on my boots as I tried to keep them from pulling Joey’s sled behind. Shortly after take-off, I found that I had to make many turns due to the fire hydrons and a few trash cans along the way.
“We were picking up speed by the minute, and I was unable to stop when I should have!” We completely passed the first seven houses and continued to pick up speed! About halfway down the snow-covered steep hill I felt that my feet were getting cold. I also felt that I was moving along a lot lighter. In that the falling snow was hitting me in the face, it was getting hard for me to see!
As I was speeding down the hill I could hear the sound of Christmas music and what sounded like someone yelling my name loudly. “It then hit me! In that my boots did slip off, I lost Joey and his sled from my train!” He went flying off into someone’s front bushes! The ride down the hill felt like it took about ten minutes. “ I know that it did not, but I kind of think that maybe time seemed to go by a bit slower in those moments.”
I finally was able to stop, and then made my way back up the hill to catch up with Joey. Going up the hill I also had to endure his constant yelling and name-calling directed at me. We then proceeded to finish the route and started to head back to town. On the bottom of the hill to the right was a small pond where people would go skating in winter. There was also a hill where you would always see people riding sleds, tarbagans, old tire tubes, and just about anything handy that would get them sliding down the hill.
Some of the poor kids in the town would use sheets of heavy cardboard. I remember seeing about seven kids sliding down the hill on the front hood of an old car! There was a guy selling hot chocolate from a small stand that had a very long line. When we were done delivering papers, Joey gave me the two dollars he owed me. “In that, I wanted to try to get on his good side for him having to crash into someone’s bushes, I offered to buy him a large hot chocolate.” He quickly agreed but also asked for extra marshmallows on top.
Being exhausted, we pulled our sleds about twenty feet off to the edge of the pond. Enjoying our hot chocolates put us both in a more relaxed talkative mood. The snow had finally stopped, and the darkened sky quickly started to show its stars. Watching everyone skating, sledding, and having fun were like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.
I looked over towards the hardware store in the center of town and could see and hear the lit-up plastic choir boys singing the First Noel song. A little girl walked by pointing to the North star that just showed up in the night sky. “It made me think about the birth of Christ. I wondered to myself if was cold in the town he was born that night in Bethlehem.” My mind raced over to a verse in the Bible that read; “After God had made creation he looked and saw that it was good”
As I took in the sights and sounds, I now know what he meant!
God bless and merry Christmas,
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