|A Christmas Memory (circa 1986)
||[Dec. 25th, 2015|01:37 am]
There's nothing quite like Christmas as a kid, is there? Usually we went to my grandparents' house in Camarillo, itself a wonderful adventureland complete with a train, treehouse, junk drawer, candy jar, not to mention my wonderful grandparents themselves. I remember lying in bed (or maybe even on the floor, if the house was packed with aunts and uncles and cousins, as it often was) on Christmas Eve being so excited I didn't know if I'd ever be able to fall asleep, to be in turn transported to Christmas morning. Well, that's exactly where I find myself now at this very instant, Christmas Eve in Camarillo. No longer does the material windfall of Christmas Morning keep me up at night - now it's a chance for reflection, and in this case writing a blog on the internet.
One time in the even deeper past we went instead to my great-aunt Lois's house, in Lafayette, up in the Bay Area. Or, actually, now that I think about it -- maybe my great-grandfather's house - a place now lost to memory - in Los Angeles? One of the great things about being small is that the world is so big, and this strange house full of so many people - it could be infinite.
Well nigh comes Christmas morning and the livingroom is full of presents, and my great-grandfather Bampi is handing out gifts. For me he had the Cadillac of them all, a bright red Radio-Flyer wagon! I don't know what ultimately happened to that wagon, but glimpses of it in various stages of oxidation in the following years flash before my mind's eye.
But that Christmas morning I was a bit ungrateful, perhaps - I might have even said "Is that all?" Or at least -- I looked disappointed. My great aunt, noticing my state, suggests we find another thing. And somewhere in the house she finds this electronic gizmo. I remember it clearly: its green, faux wrought-iron spherical plastic enclosure, the power cord. When you plugged it in and it warmed up a little bit it started chirping like a bird! An electronic bird.
This was glorious! This electronic chirping ornament followed me for years, a prized component of my treasure trove. I took it apart, I put it back together, I took it apart, and so on. It's the sort of thing that nowadways would be digital and run on a small battery and be disposable, but back then it ran on 120VAC and was fully analog and I'm surprised I didn't electrocute myself.
Whatever happened to that captivating contraption? Surely lost in some move or purging of junk. Perhaps my parents, tired of its ear-piercing electronic cries, accelerated its departure. But could I find another one today?
Surprisingly, typing "green spherical plastic electronic bird chirper" into Google reveals the thing indeed, on ebay, titled: "Vintage Electronic Chirping Bird Christmas Silver Filigree Plastic Ball Ornament". This may be the thing indeed! Or perhaps a slightly later model of it, and not in the right color.
And there is a modern, battery-powered version on Amazon, and almost every review hints at a story not terribly unlike the above. This vintage chirping bird contraption is apparently a cherished memory of many: http://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Silver-Chirping-Christmas-Ornament/dp/B002SS5LHO