December 24, 2006

gummy worms & other Christmas memories

Friday night I was standing in a gift shop at the Nashville airport, skimming the travel-ready packages of candy, making sure I didn't need anything else to accommodate my 1 hour and 40 minute flight to Tampa. My eyes locked on a bag of gummy worms and I was immediately transported to a Christmas long ago....

Abilene, TX: circa 1985 -- We were about to take a very long road trip to Fairfax VA to visit my mom's side of the family for Christmas. As my sister and I crawled into the backseat of our maroon Oldsmobile we found early Christmas presents sitting where we would soon be trapped. We unwrapped them in unison finding our parent's answer to hours of captivity and small-space confinement. A bribe to keep us quiet, yes; but as I recall it worked. For to each one of us was given a personal cassette tape player with headphones. We listened to Chistmas tape after Christmas tape. Over and over again. We had one tape in particular that I remember. It was A Country Christmas. Voices like Johnny Cash, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Dolly Parton twanging out all the traditional holiday wassails. To this day I cannot hear Tanya Tucker without thinking back to her version of Silver Bells.

Another bribe my sister and I gladly consumed for 1500 miles was a deep plastic tub of gummy worms. So indelibly seared into my brain is the sight, smell, and taste of that memory that gummy worms always take me to the backseat of that Olds, on a highway headed northeast, and A Country Christmas playing privately into each ear.

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