Holiday Memories

Have you ever received a bicycle as a Holiday gift? One of my fondest memories from childhood was receiving a Schwinn Sting Ray that my older brother and our friend refurbished with help from my Dad. They painted it purple sparkle and it was something to behold. The fact that my big brother built it for me made it even that much more special. I rode the purple beast all over the countryside surrounding our small town and it brought me endless joy. Now, as an adult, I appreciate more than ever the effort and sentiment that went into that special gift.

10 Responses to “Holiday Memories”

  • beth h says:

    The year I turned ten, I had outgrown my 20″ kids bike and clearly needed something taller. Along with my sister, who was born tall and also needed something taller, we begged our parents for new bikes for Chanukah that year. They said “maybe”. A few weeks later, a couple of nights before the holiday began, my sister got ansty and began searching all the possible hiding places to see if she could find our Chanukah presents. No boxes anywhere to be found. I told her to stop looking, that she’d get in trouble; and then she grabbed me and said, I’m gonna keep looking, and if I get in trouble, well, you’re gonna help me look and get in trouble too.” (did I mention she was bigger AND older than me?)

    Then she opened the door to our parents’ closet — breaking the last great taboo. There, under a bedsheet, were two brand-new bicycles from JC Penney’s — a green three-speed for me and a white ten-speed for her. She saw them, smiled, and sloppily put back the bedsheet.

    That night at dinner, my father announced that someone had gone into his closet, and if we confessed now all would be forgiven. I was about to open my mouth but my sister slugged my arm hard. My dad saw, and growled at us that we could have our bikes now, but that we were grounded for all eight nights of Chanukah, and that we could not ride our bikes until January 1st. “Happy F***king Chanukah,” he growled as he returned to his soup. We felt terrible for weeks.

    The following spring, the sting of that Chanukah was mostly forgotten when my parents gave me permission to ride that bike to and from school, so I could stop being picked on by the bullies on the school bus. My father bought me a chain lock and a bright orange book bag, and I became a lifelong bicycle “commuter” (before any of us knew the word).

    Epilogue: By the time I’d turned fourteen I had long outgrown the three-speed. My sister turned sixteen, got her drivers’ license and never looked back. Her white ten-speed had hung forgotten in the garage since she’d gotten her learner’s permit. It was handed down to me. I pulled it down, cleaned it up, learned how to put new tires and tubes on it, and rode it everywhere for four years of high school. When the movie “Breaking Away” opened at our local movie house, I saw it with some friends. The next day we all went to the bike shop and bought mesh riding gloves and water bottles and those funny little cotton caps. I swapped out the plastic handlebar tape for a fresh wrap of cotton; and I was well on my way to becoming a dedicated bike freak.

  • brad says:

    When I was ten or 11, my parents gave me a new jet-black Columbia single-speed coaster-brake bike that fit me much better than the little red bike I had outgrown. The funny thing is that on Christmas morning when my siblings and I went down to the living room, I walked right by the bike because it was so big I assumed it was for my older brother. I opened all my other presents and then my parents looked at me, smiling, and said, “we think you might have missed something.” I just about fell on the floor when I realized the bike was for me.

  • Elaine says:

    The year I was 8, I got a bike for Christmas, which for me was the final “there is no Santa” clue, since in my mind it didn’t make any sense that he could get it down the chimney. (Of course, in our previous house there hadn’t even been a chimney, so there you are. The cracked logic of childhood!)

    But for me, it’s a bittersweet memory. I grew up in southern California, so I could start riding it right away. But I had terrible balance when I was younger, so I was having a really hard time getting going. Plus I was really nervy about tipping over.

    Then that next February my father died. He’d been the one trying to teach me, despite my freakouts, plus our whole family (I have 2 younger sisters) went into chaos crisis-mode. So the bike went into the garage and never really came out again. Neither of my sisters ever got bikes IIRC. I tried to figure it out on my own when I was about 11, and it was too small already. Nobody I knew really rode bikes, so I didn’t have any particular drive to do it, and again, was too freaked out about falling down.

    I finally learned how to ride a bike when I was almost 30 years old, on an Electra Townie that my husband found for me. He’d been trying to get me on a bike for 5 years or more, and that was the first time it ever “took.” I love my Townie to pieces, although I do all my commuting now (4 years later) on a Kona Smoke 29er. And I am nuts about biking, too!

    I wish Dad could see me out riding now….

  • Alan says:

    @Beth

    I have many stories to tell about my older brother and I pulling shenanigans like you described. Unfortunately, in our case it was mostly I who was the instigator and always managed to draw him into trouble.

    Thanks for sharing…

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Elaine

    Elaine,

    That’s such a sad story about your Father. I’m glad you finally found your “wheels”; I’m sure he would be proud of you.

    Have a wonderful holiday-
    Alan

  • Thomas Barone says:

    I was a teenager ( 14-15 yrs. old) and riding an old — very old used steel coaster brake bike around the village where i grew up . The village was located way out in the country and many miles away from any other community. The ” old red bike” was a mand-me-down from a neighbor and i rode it to death!
    On a very special Christmas i received a brand NEW bike . It was an English Racer 3 speed skinny tire bike. What made this bike so very special was the fact that it cost my father a lot of hard earned money to provide such a fantastic gift to me. I rode it every where locally at first and then ventured out of town to other communities . Some as far as 10 miles away. Over the years my love of cycling grew as my adventures and horizions expanded. The new bike served me very well and i had it well after i started driving in my early twenties.

    Thanks to a special caring dad who i’m sure sacraficed a great deal to provide a Christmas present that will never be forgotten.
    This thread has brought back many wonderful memories, thanks’ Alan for to inspiration.

  • Russ says:

    I can’t imagine any kid not having great memories of receiving a bike at Christmas, but let me tell you a bit of a reverse. Many summers ago in our previous home, we discovered to our dismay and frustration that all all three of our bikes had been stolen from our backyard (one of the dangers of living on a corner lot). Since our two boys had paper routes, we had to replace them right away, but insurance would only cover enough to pay for cheaper versions of two bikes. Mine would have to wait until more affordable times – apparently well into the future considering our circumstances at the time. We purchased the boys’ bikes and their routes went on as usual and we got over the loss.

    Christmas came around and my wife and I were waiting with anticipation, right along with our boys and daughter, to see what had appeared during the night. Together, we entered the living room and to my extreme surprise and the beaming faces of my wife and children, there was a brand new bike for me, Dad, sitting next to the Christmas tree! I couldn’t hold back the emotion; with tears filling my eyes and emotion quivering my chin, my wife leaned over to me and whispered, “It was the boys’ idea; they saved up their paper route money to buy you the bike. They were so excited!” I promised right then and there that no matter how simple, no matter how low end, I would never get rid of it. Although I have long since retired it from active use, this bicycle still graces our garage, a reminder of the true gift of love. Even now, writing this little note, emotion swells with just the memory of this wonderful Christmas bike. What could make a father prouder?

  • Thomas Barone says:

    To Russ,

    What a beautiful story!

  • Alan says:

    Russ,

    Wonderful story – you are truly blessed.

    All the best,
    Alan

  • andy parmentier says:

    2 winters ago, passed up a deal on a bermuda blue triang..ulated DYNAMIK. again, just a short while, another one same color went by. i would certainly like to disappear in the bermuda triangle. a geomagnetic anomaly and geobicycletic steel and geo-oceanic attraction on my heart.
    so if anyone’s got one, i’m hoping it lands under the tree/under the sea/under me

 
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