Hay’s Daze: Christmas is officially here

Just a couple more sleeps ’til Christmas! So here’s one more revisited story from the twinkling colored lights of a golden Christmas past …

I’m 11 and it’s Christmas Eve and I’m lying on floor in the living room, stuffed full of turkey and trimmings, and I’m gazing at the Christmas tree and eyeing the piles of presents that have already accumulated under it, and I’m feeling kind of happy and sad at the same time because Christmas is finally here and I don’t want it to end.

And then I realize Dad isn’t at his regular spot after Christmas Eve dinner, sprawled out on the long green chesterfield snoring away. He calls it digesting. “Hey, do you want to help me put something together?” he says and he plunks a colorful box down beside me. It has a picture of a little dump truck and a maze of tracks, and all kinds of keen stuff. The box says: BIG LOADER.

“I saw it at Builder’s Hardware,” Dad says, smiling. “Craziest thing. I figured you’d all get quite a kick out of it.”

We have the instructions spread all over, and we are snapping plastic tracks together, making a road with an incline and a tower and a loading ramp and all kinds of amazing things that automatically steer the little truck, and we are laughing when Dad puts the four AA batteries in it with the ON switch already ON and it takes off across the table in completely the wrong direction. He grabs it just before it careens off the edge like a bad guy’s car shooting off a mountain road in a James Bond movie.

And by this time, Grandma is at the table, and of course she’s the one that figures out how the Hopper part fits so that the little black marbles drop into the dump truck when it arrives, and by then both Mom and my sister come to see why Grandma and Dad and me are making such a commotion.

And it’s finally all set up and Dad sits back and hands me the little truck. “Wait ‘till you see what it does,” he says to everybody, as proud as a peacock which is another thing Grandma likes to say, and we all know it’s very special because we’ve never had a present like this on Christmas Eve before. Some of my friends have families that actually open their non-Santa gifts on Christmas Eve and although the thought of that at first always make me a bit jealous, I’m glad that our family waits until Christmas morning. But something like a Big Loader from Dad just makes Christmas even more awesome than ever.

So everybody gathers around and with unsteady hands I carefully place the little truck on the track and slide the ON switch. And away it goes!

And in about five seconds flat we are all laughing and pointing and being amazed at Big Loader as he trucks backwards and forwards around the complicated track, changing from a dump truck to a loader and back again, dumping and loading, over and over, doing the most marvellous things.

In and around a couple of games of Yahtzee, one round of Sorry, and an exciting session of Clue which Grandma won by figuring out the murderer was Miss Scarlet in the Library with the Candle Stick , that little Big Loader chugged away all evening until it was time for me to go to bed and not sleep.

And to this very day many years later, I still dig out that little tired truck and then, finally, for our family, it’s officially Christmas.

Harley Hay is a writer and filmmaker in Red Deer.

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