Passing a black SUV on I-35 covered in dirty snow with wrapped gifts pressed against the back windows and children sleeping on pillows in the back seat sparked a memory of long ago arguments and pinching contests with my little sister; of my dad yodeling for endless miles of hilly dark roads; of empty coffee cans used for tinkling (no cafes or service stations stayed open on Christmas eve) on those long trips from Miami, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas to be with family for Christmas.
Suddenly, my imagination tucked me into the back seat of a station wagon loaded with Christmas gifts and golf clubs, sitting next to my little sister where an imaginary line between us indicated our space on the cold vinyl seats. Luckily, KGGF, the reliable AM radio station out of Coffeyville, Kansas played Christmas music and clips from old radio shows like Fibber McGee and Molly at Christmas keeping mom and dad happy and reflective of their own Christmases past.
When Roy Rogers sang "Jingle Bells" Jingle Bells sung by Roy Rogers dad began to yodel between each stanza, mother began to sing in flat notes, my voice rattled in sharps, and Jonya sat and stared until at last she joined with her cheerful but squeaky soprano voice. The long dark road served and bounced us around in merriment.
My Aunt Della once bought me a little red 45 rpm record of Gene Autry singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer It mattered not the time of year when I'd play the record and sing along. KGGF played many of the Gene Autry songs and we all joined in. The long hours on the highway didn't seem so long while we sang in the car.
But it was Bing Crosby singing White Christmas that seemed to bring our voices into harmony. Even as children we knew our father had fought in the war and missed many a Christmas with his family. My father had played golf with Bing Crosby in Southern California after the war, and that somehow made "White Christmas" and time in the Army real in our minds.
Before long the old narrow highway pulled into Augusta and passed the stinky oil refinery. The smell woke us up out of our dreamy sleeping states, and mother often reminded us that in those glimmering blinking lights of the refinery lived the "tooth" fairies that carried away our tiny teeth and replaced them with a nickel or a dime.
As we neared Grandma's house dad began to honk his special horn that "Mooed" making sure everyone was awake for hugs, kisses, and warm chocolate chip cookies when we arrived.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah Dear Readers. May you all experience the magic of the holiday season, and sing a song.