Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Christmas Story, Chapter 2, Christmas Eve
The following is Chapter 2 of A Christmas Story by Mike Furches.  You can see the preceding prologue and Chapter 1 in the archives or links section of this page. This story is copyrighted by Mike Furches and intent to publish in book form in 2015.  This is the variation prior to final edit prior to publication. 

From A Christmas Story
By Mike Furches
Christmas Eve

            The Hamm’s home was a nice, two-story split level located in one of the new subdivisions in Owasso. Owasso was a fast growing bedroom community North of Tulsa, and predominately Caucasian. The income for most homes was in the middle to upper class status. Few minorities lived in Owasso although there had been a influx of Hispanic workers. There was a large transfer of Hispanics from Texas for chicken processing plant. There were few Blacks and Asians. There was a larger number of Native Americans due to the large population of Original Americans in the area as a hold over from Oklahoma Territory being set up for reservations. The Original American population was larger than other population groups with the exception of Caucasians but in comparison with other communities across Oklahoma, Owasso had fewer Native Americans per capita than most communities across the state. Even with this the case Owasso took pride in its Original American heritage.  Even the name Owasso meant End of the Trail and it respected everyone making up its community.
Charlie and Tayras’ home sat off of 76th Street North. Driving to work Charlie accessed Highway 169 just by pulling out of his driveway, turning west, going approximately 2 miles and getting on Highway 169 South towards Tulsa. Highway 169 a 4 lane expressway into Tulsa allowed him to be at work in 20 minuets. The actual mileage between the two cities limits was only three miles but with the early morning traffic it took longer to get to work.
Friends and family visiting the Hamm’s from out of state were surprised at the number of lakes in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is among the top states with the number of miles of coast line, including all bodies of water. The area surrounding Tulsa is hilly with plush green surroundings. During the seasons, especially the fall, there are flowering plants throughout the region. This all created a much more beautiful impression of Oklahoma than most realized.
In the area around Owasso there was a change in scenery with fewer hills especially to its north going towards the Kansas state line. All across Tulsa and most of the North East region of the state there was a number of forests with beautiful streams and hills. There were other areas where it was flat, and not much to see other than the tall grass prairies. When going North towards Kansas, Owasso was the first area where this became obvious.
The Hamm’s moved to Owasso due to its close proximity to Tulsa and American Airlines where Charlie worked and it had a good reputation for their schools. While many schools had good reputations in the area, Owasso students tested exceptionally well on state and national tests and it was close to work. A large percentage of students went to college where they also excelled. This was important to Charlie and Tayra due to their own interests for their children to do well and prepare for the future. After living in Owasso for awhile they realized that not everything was as rosy as they had first thought. Owasso like any community had their share of problems but it was a community they where still pleased to live in and be a part of. They also knew that while every community and every school has some to be desired, it was still superior to others public schools in the area.

Charlie enjoyed Christmas more than any of the holidays and his house showed it. While the region surrounding Tulsa was noted for their decorations during the Holidays Charlie and Tayra had a house which exhibited the holiday spirit. The two-story-split-level home had lights surrounding the frame of the house all of the way around the eves. They had candles in each window and a large beautiful lighted green wreath on the front door adorned with red ribbons. In the front of the yard was a unique full sized, life like nativity. It had all of the traditional things, the shepherds, three kings, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and animals but it also had a figurine of Santa Claus kneeling at the manger of the baby Jesus. There was a flood light on the nativity changing colors and a hidden speaker playing the songs, Away in A Manger, and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. The house was not decorated in a gaudy way as many houses often were during the holidays, it was neat and attractive. It was a house people drove by when out driving and looking at lights and many were impressed with it because of its simplicity and appreciation that it wasn't as much like the Griswold house with Steve Martin from the movie A Christmas Story. Instead there was a lot to see and it was tastefully done.
Charlie sat on the living room couch with his arm around Tayra looking at the Christmas tree and listening to a mix of Christmas music he had put together on his Mp3 player. It included everything from Classic Christmas Carols like Joy to the World and songs by Andy Williams and other Classical artists to some newer contemporary Christmas songs like Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant, and others by Steven Curtis Chapman, Point of Grace and others. He even had a few Chipmunk Christmas songs for the kids but truth was, Charlie liked those songs as much as the kids. Charlie and Tayra put the kids to bed almost two hours ago and were confident they were asleep. The two of them were starting to get tired themselves.
The Hamm’s were not going to have a huge Christmas this year but they were going to have a very nice Christmas. Charlie always saw to it that his family got most of what they wanted for Christmas, not because he believed in the commercialism of Christmas but he saw it as an opportunity to show his family how much he loved them. Charlie and Tayra also made it a point over the last 15 years to make sure they had their children go through their possessions and clear them out prior to Christmas most of the time delivering the goods to ministries and other places they knew there would be children who would appreciate any gift they got. They did this annually with the gifts being used and others practically new but all of them almost like new. Charlie never liked giving away things that were of no value. He had volunteered on a regular basis at a church named Mosaic that did a lot of work for the homeless. He had unfortunately seen soiled toys, stuffed animals, blankets and the like donated to that ministry, even at time seeing people donate spoiled food. Pastor Mike at Mosaic always expressed his gratitude for the gifts but had decided some time ago that he just didn't have the manpower to sort through donations of the sort. Through this Charlie learned to think beforehand about what type of impression it would give to someone who had always been given used broken items or items of no value like the things he had seen donated to Mosaic.
In the background of the living room there were the soft carols of Mannheim Steamroller and Kenny G now playing. The music was all instrumental but easy and pleasing to the ears. It was nice because Charlie had just taken off the music of The Tractors, a popular country swing band out of Tulsa that he enjoyed. While their music and c.d. was enjoyable it was definitely upbeat and at times humorous. Charlie moved closer to Tayra putting his arm around her and snuggling up to her. "Church sure was good tonight wasn’t it?"
"Yea everything except the rain storm and getting there a little late." Tayra responded as she reached down and placed Charlie’s hand in hers. She gently rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb as they sat there snuggle up with the soft sounds of Christmas playing through their sound system.
Charlie chuckled, "Well at least I don’t have to wash my hair tonight before foing to bed."
"I guess not." Tayra responded with a smile as she snuggled even closer, putting her head on his chest.
"Charlie?" Tayra asked.
"Yea, Honey."
"Do you really think the kids will have a good Christmas this year, I mean Brenda and Sammy didn’t really get a lot of stuff?"
"No but they got pretty much what they wanted and what they wanted cost a pretty penny. We got that stereo and ring for Brenda and Sammy has a new motorcycle parked out front that he doesn't know about yet. That’s besides the other little things they have under the tree like clothes, c.d.’s and things from others in the family." Charlie responded.
"Yea I guess that’s right." Tayra answered. "I can’t wait to see Sam’s eyes, especially after the presents for Kari and Brenda have been opened. He'll get down to his last present, the little box you have hid under the tree stand that tells him to go look outside. I guess that up until then he'll be thinking he doesn't have much and didn’t get much this year. Then he"ll see his new motorcycle." Tayra’s eyes lit up because she remembered the times Charlie fooled the family into thinking they were not getting much and surprised them with either wrapping boxes in boxes to disguise the gift or to at times kidding them and telling them exactly what they had in a present all of the time knowing they didn’t believe him. This was a pleasant memory for Tayra because Charlie didn't give her an engagement ring when they got married because he just didn't have the money. It wasn't until they had been married for three years before she got her ring. It was the Christmas he wrapped the ring in a box with a brick in it, telling her all of the time it was her ring but knowing she didn't believe him.
The two sat there talking and reflecting on past Christmases when the clock chimed that it was now 1 AM.
"I guess it's bedtime. We have everything out and the kids know better than to come in here until we are up. I know they will be up by at least  they will be up 6 AM trying to get us up." Charlie said.
Tayra replied, "I really think they will sleep in tomorrow until at least 8:00. Sammy and Brenda are old enough that they know what they need to do and Kari is so young that she doesn't realize what is going on."
"Yea, I guess we have a couple of years before we start getting woke up at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning. Of course Sammy and Brenda could fool us, we will have to wait and see, and pray that they sleep in." Charlie said laughing. Then realized the clock had chimed at 1 AM he bent down to her as she lay her head on his chest and kissed Tayra, "Merry Christmas honey."
"Merry Christmas." She responded after the kiss. "Come and lets go on to bed and get some rest." They got up from the couch and started walking down the hallway towards their bedroom. They turned off the lights on the tree and around the house, including the outside. They left the living room area shutting the sliding privacy doors into the living room which keep the room from being visible to the kids once waking up. They children may wake and go to the kitchen to get something to eat before Charlie and Tayra but Charlie and Tayra knew they would not go into the living room until everyone was up. Charlie and Tayra had also given strict instructions that Sammy and Brenda were to either be in their room doing whatever, or in the kitchen eating breakfast but they were not to go into the living room or outside. This would keep Sammy from seeing his motorcycle parked in the driveway which was only visible from Charlie and Tayra’s bedroom and the living room. As Charley and Tayra walked upstairs they peeked into each of the children’s bedrooms and sure enough they were sound asleep. It wasn’t long until they were both in their room sound asleep.

The lights were turned off both inside and out, and the person in the car parked a half a block down noticed, the Hamm's were obviously going to bed.
The Hamm's sleep restfully except for a brief moment when Charlie thought he heard a noise downstairs and later a vehicle leaving near their house. He started to get up but realized  that Tayra had not moved. He thought that what he heard was from a dream or his imagination. After all the furnace often kicked in it made noises and Charlie thought it could have been the sound he thought he heard. After thinking about this a few moments he went back to sleep without any difficulty.

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