Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas From The Grouch

Our weather isn't permitting me to go for my traditional "Christmas Day Bike Ride" this year - unless I can put some chains on my tires.

If you're cold, they're cold. . . Bring them inside!
So I'm reflecting a bit on Ghosts of Christmas Past as I sip some coffee and watch the retro-kids enjoy their new presents. It won't be long before I'll be busy preparing for visiting in-laws, so I'm making the most of the quiet.

There were no bicycles under the tree this year, though to my mind, a bicycle has always been the ultimate Christmas present. Little Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun notwithstanding, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. Remember ads like this?
Merry Christmas from Schwinn - 1972.
It's been a long, long time since I've found a bicycle under the tree, unless I put it there for someone else. I think the last time I got one was about the same time that little kid in the Schwinn ad was pouncing on his new Sting-Ray. Even though I'm long past getting bikes for Christmas, my "second favorite" present these days is a gift card from the bike shop.
Always the right size and the right color.
And I don't think it was meant as a joke.
There seems to be bit of a stigma among some people about gift cards as being "impersonal." That attitude might be changing, but to my mind, whether a gift card is a thoughtful gift or a thoughtless one depends on one simple and obvious distinction: did the giver actually think about what they were giving? I mean, isn't that true of any gift? Seriously, I could fill a couple of closets with all the useless "thoughtful" gifts I've gotten over the years -- perhaps the epitome of which would be the fish broiler basket for the grill, made particularly useless by the fact that it's no secret that I absolutely hate fish. Believe it or not, I've actually gotten two of those.

Sure, gift cards can be impersonal or thoughtless. It isn't uncommon for me to clean out a drawer and find old unused gift cards that I've totally forgotten about. Cards for restaurants that I hate, or that don't have a location anywhere near my home. Or for stores that I never visit. But a card from the bike shop? I'll always find a good use for that. New gloves, tires, or tools -- there's always something I'll find that I need and will use.

It's not quite as exciting as finding a beautiful gleaming bike beside the tree - but in practicality, it's pretty close.

Wherever you are, I'm wishing you the best that the holiday season can bring you!


  1. Well that sure brought back memories for me. My own first bicycle was delivered under the Christmas tree the year I turned six.

    It was red with 20-inch wheels and it had training wheels that I didn't need, since I learned to balance that summer on a neighbor's sister's bicycle. It must have been common at that time, but the top bar of my bike was removable to let it be either "a girl's bike" or "a boy's bike".

    It almost certainly was branded with the Sears name.

  2. A bicycle is always a gift, whenever--or however--you get it!

    Happy Holidays to one of my favorite bloggers!

    1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Justine.

  3. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Stay healthy.

  4. I can't remember when I got my first bicycle (I was a very young child), but I do cherish my second.

    I was 11 years old when the "E.T." movie made me want a Kuwahara BMX-style bike. I started cajoling my parents for one like that continuosly, but to no avail. So I did the next best thing: without asking for permission I took my mom's bike, which was collecting rust in the patio, and did a thorough cleaning.

    I greased the hubs, oiled the chain, patched the inner tubes, inflate the tires and started riding it. It was a blue and white Benotto ladies bike with a curved tube, enclosed chain, and color-matched mudguards. I was able to join my friends and ride with them everyday. The bike was a little bigger for my size, but I didn't care.

    After seeing how much I worked and rode that old Benotto, my parents gave me a brand new 10-speed, 24" wheeled racing bike for Christmas. I was ecstatic! I wanted to ride it immediately!! But... it came disassembled in a box.

    That morning I got another valuable present: a new level of respect for my dad. Being a doctor, I wasn't able to see him at work, but seeing him using the tools to put together that bike made me admire his handyman skills. After that day I started to spend more time learning stuff with him, fixing things around the house like plumbing and electricity.

    Twelve years later I graduated as an aircraft technician, and today I do most of the repairs in my home and my car, all the repairs of my bikes, and I also run a small guitar repair business. Everytime my friends and extended family needs something to be fixed, they call me first. And all that started that Chrismas morning when my dad teached me how to put together the bicycle he gave me.

    Thank you, dad.