My family was one of five families that lived year round in a little hamlet of mostly summer cottages we called "The Crick," known by others as "Hopp's Landing." Our mother was a stay-at-home mom for my brother and me. Our father worked for M. P. Moller Pipe Organ Company, installing or repairing pipe organs throughout the country.
Every year Pop spent weeks setting up an underground, a little village of Plasticville houses and Lionel trains, complete with tunnels, snow, trees, people and parks.
Then, he'd leave for several weeks of work "on the road" only to return right before Christmas. Usually the first night Pop was away, he'd phone home and ask how the trains were working. My brother and I would have to report that somehow the trains had gone too fast and run off the track. And that's how they would stay until our father returned.
With Pop away, it was up to Mom to fetch a tree. Sometimes we'd drive into town and purchase a pre-cut tree from a corner stand, but I remember some years when the snow was too deep to drive through.
Then we would tramp through snow in the woods behind our house to find a tree. Although the only one we managed to cut down was a scrawny, scraggly pine, it was beautiful once it was set in its holder, staked to the wall, and decorated with a mix of homemade ornaments and what have now become family heirlooms.
Under the tree, we'd place a small pile of gifts, some years wrapped in wallpaper.
On Christmas Eve, after setting out a plate of peanut-butter cookies and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer, my brother and I were allowed to sleep in the same bed. Mom would tuck us in with a reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and "The Night before Christmas."
While lying in bed, I can remember hearing the jingle of Santa's bells. In the morning there would be additional gifts unde the tree, from Santa as well as our relatives in town. Years later, I realized Santa's bells were the chains on my father's tires as he drove through the snow to town, so we would have more gifts to open on Christmas morning.
Christmas at "The Crick" is a cherished memory.
This week's question:
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed abolishing the death penalty. Considering the numerous appeals allowed and the time and money involved, is he right or wrong?