A lot of Christmas presents have come and gone under the tree by the time you reach my age.
I’m sure they were all appreciated at the time, but I must admit that most of them are now forgotten. This is especially the case once we start to move back into my early childhood, when Pierre Trudeau was a rookie prime minister and the Beatles were still together.
However, two gifts have survived the march of time and still remain in my memory banks.
One of them was a table hockey game, and did that thing ever get a workout.
The countless games and tournaments played on this “rink” are vague memories that all jumble together, but my most vivid memory is a bit hard to explain.
This particular game was made sometime after the 1967 National Hockey League expansion, and the logos painted on the boards included exotic names along with the original six teams.
Weirdly, the new team that I remember the clearest was the Seals. Originally called the California Seals, the team soon changed its name to the Oakland Seals, then the Bay Area Seals for two games and finally the California Golden Seals.
I don’t remember which name it was using when my two siblings and I received the game, but for some reason Seals has stuck with me. I have no idea why, not a clue.
There is another present, however, that made an even more lasting impression, so much so that I actually remember the moment that it was received.
In those days, we lived in a farmhouse where the three kids had their bedrooms upstairs. On this particular Christmas, we walked downstairs in the morning to find a big piece of plywood sitting on a table in the living room, covered by a sheet. When we were all assembled, the sheet was whisked away to reveal an intricate re-creation of a cattle farm — a network of wooden corrals, complete with working gates. I don’t remember this specifically, but I’m assuming it came with toy farm animals.
The work that my father must have put into this is mind-boggling, although at the time I don’t remember having any appreciation for that. I just remember enjoying how closely it resembled the actual network of cattle corrals that were used on the Charolais ranch where we lived.
I have probably never received another present that made such a lasting impression.