The Final Christmas Countdown


With only a few days left before the big guy bounds down the chimney, it’s time to finish our Flamingo Street Christmas Countdown. As you remember from last week’s column, Dear Reader, we had started our countdown at number eight, and worked our way down. This week, we will go through the last four on our list.

Four might be the hardest and without a doubt the longest number in the entire countdown – and for good reason. For four long years I begged for Santa to bring a BB rifle with my name on it, and for three of those four years, Santa didn’t. Our parents said Santa must’ve had little boys of his own and knew how dangerous such a gift was.

Each Christmas, Dad would try to comfort me by saying, “Santa doesn’t want you to shoot your eye out, now does he?” So, imagine my surprise that fourth year when I ran down the steps and into the living room to see a long narrow box under the tree with my name on it!

Now to be honest, it was an entire week before one of us “accidently” got injured, but it wasn’t our eyes. Luckily, Big Brother James was wearing blue jeans at the time or the injury to his backside would’ve been much worse. And, no, I didn’t “borrow” this from A Christmas Story — it really happened.

Number three is a priceless and irreplaceable number in the Flamingo Street Christmas Countdown. How do I know? Because that is what Mom said, and moms are always right.

When our parents first got married, Dad was deployed to a base in Germany and Mom went with him. While there, they bought three boxes of hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments from the oldest ornament maker in Germany. The number of German ornaments we broke while we lived on Flamingo Street? Three. And each time Mom said they were priceless and irreplaceable.

We did accidently break other ornaments each year, but they were all locally bought and easily replaced if they broke after magically falling all by themselves, hitting the wood floor super hard, or hitting an annoying brother.

Number two is the number of boys who occupied each of the two kids’ bedrooms upstairs. And two bedrooms is the number of bedrooms you’d have to pass before getting to our parents’ bedroom at the end of the hallway. During Christmas Eve, two is also the number of kids jumping between beds in an attempt to stay awake to see Santa finally come down the chimney. And the number of kids who got really hurt jumping between beds on Christmas Eve with all the lights out in our bedroom?

You guessed it. Two.

It’s taken two columns, but we’ve finally reached the most important number of all in our Flamingo Street Christmas Countdown. My earliest memories growing up on Flamingo, I knew the one reason we celebrated Christmas. I knew the one reason why our family went to church on Christmas Eve.

And I knew then, as I know now, Christmas isn’t about giving or getting presents. It’s about the gift someone else gave us all. The number one reason for Christmas is not hidden anywhere…it’s right in its name.


From The Wife and me, here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]