This year was one of the roughest Christmas’s financially that we’ve honestly had in quite a while. But then again, does it really matter as I said in my last post here?
My kids didn’t get sheltered this year, and have received the same speech my job gives me every year. My job basically says, “You’ve performed great this year…but do to circumstances beyond our control like the economy, higher insurance costs, customers who aren’t increasing their orders…this is all we can do.”
So as my dad used to say, “Do you think the electric company, gas company, house note people tell me I don’t have to pay this month because it’s Christmas?”
Boy do I understand those words in a whole new way now. Perhaps more-so, because Lillpappa didn’t have Sallie Mae to throw in there as well!
However, Lillpappa would always try to get the three of us one “big” gift, and sometimes I could only imagine the looks on our faces when we unwrapped that gift.
This year I was again remembering one of the craziest gifts ever.
Let me set this one up.
This was around the time the Atari 2600 was jumping off the shelves. Kids in and out the ‘hood were getting this for a couple of Christmas’s and my brother, sister and I were expecting to finally get our family’s first video game system. So this Christmas was it, Black “Lillpappa” Santa was about to hook us up!
I can’t remember who opened it, but I just remember seeing that box and…what…what is THAT?
It was the Bally Astrocade! To this day, I have NEVER met anyone who had one of these systems. Let me repeat that, NEVER!
Now my dad is good for cutting-against-the-grain, but this might have been his best one ever. I’m sure this game system was a lot more powerful than we thought, but because it wasn’t an Atari, it didn’t matter to us too much. Obviously somebody else in this world had one because there’s a website HERE devoted to this great game system. Plus, it even has a wiki page!
“On the front of the unit was a 24-key “hex-pad” keyboard used for selecting games and options. Most cartridges included two games, and when they were inserted the machine would reset and display a menu starting with the programs on the cartridge and then listing the four built-in programs. On the back were a number of ports, including connectors for power, the controllers, and an expansion port. One oddity was that the top rear of the unit was empty, and could be opened to store up to 15 cartridges. The system’s ability to be upgraded from a Videogame console to Personal computer along with its library of nearly 30 games in 1982 are some reasons that made it more versatile than its main competitors, and was listed by Jeff Rovin as one of the seven major video game suppliers.”
Now, if you know Lillpappa, any look of disappointment would have meant that the bad-boy was going back to get returned and all we would have had to play with for Christmas would have been the wrapping paper! But reflecting on it today, he probably knew. The Atari was going for around $200, and that was in the late ’70s, so it would have been an extremely expensive purchase. But my dad still came through with something on that day when he didn’t have to do so. He always reminded us that he gave us Christmas all year long and that was no lie. Whether it was the trips to California, the Hot Wheels, baseball cards, GI Joes and dolls (the dolls were for my sister just so you all understand). We lacked nothing as we lived on his sole income in our household. Sure, I wanted whatever was hot at that time, (later it would be an Intellivision and Colecovision), but lacked nothing.
So, not only am I thankful for my Savior this holiday season, I’m thankful for the sacrifices made by the real Santa Claus, the one that worked 16-hours shifts, drove some beat-up cars, paid for our private school, etc.. He did all of this when the lights, gas, insurance, mortgage company and so on still wanted their money by Christmas.
Thanks Dad. The older I get, the more I appreciate the sacrifices, and days like today amplify it even more for me.
Thank you Lord, for providing him a job, us a house, and plenty of food. I was a fat kid growing up so I certainly never missed a meal.
So as you open presents this morning, I leave you with a couple of jams that played in the background every year and a playlist that I put on every year with my family as well (sorry, no Bing Crosby in our house):