Today, the weather here in Kingman matches the mood. The skies are overcast with the faintest hint of blue on the western horizon and though it is not very cold, the brisk winds send a chill into the bones.

Winter 2008 on Route 66 in Kingman

Its the type of day that quickens the spirit with anticipation of a white Christmas, has you thinking about summer road trips, and remembering past Christmases. It is the type of day where the mood swings between joy and despair, between somber reflection and eager anticipation with the speed of a metronome.
I have a few gift ideas that you might find of interest. First, however, let me bore you with word pictures that will have to suffice as my version of the ghost of Christmas past.
I am not obsessed with the political correctness that sucks the joy out of the holidays nor am I a deck the house with Christmas lights, wander the neighborhood singing Christmas carols kind of fellow. I fall more into the reflect on what momentous event is represented by the celebration of Christmas even though the early church subverted a Pagan holiday and simply enjoy the American traditions associated with it camp.
Memories play a big part of how we view Christmas and how much joy we derive from the celebration. The recent losses in our family have me replaying those old memories in my mind like a looped film without end.
For reasons unknown, it is the Christmas of 1976 that seems to have dominance in these reruns. I had graduated school that year and taken a grand adventure with my dad that culminated with resolution of business in Kingman. This was followed by moving my mom and little sister from Michigan to Kingman, my dad and I going back for the trucks and other possessions, and then heading west again in late December.
The morning dad and I rolled from Jackson it was bitter cold and the ground was lightly dusted with snow. The pewter skies were heavy with the threat of more snow.
The truck, a 1964 Ford F600 that had served in a previous life as a Goodwill delivery vehicle, was a rust bucket with no floorboards other than the plywood dad had cut to fit. The heater and defroster was anemic but the heat from the engine helped keep the chill from the toes.
Before making South Bend we lost the passenger window, a blessing of sorts as it alleviated the heavy smell of burning oil and exhaust that permeated the cab, replaced it with plastic, and replaced a rear tire. While none of this gave us the warm and fuzzies about the rest of the trip it was still going better than some of our epic moves.
The short version of the long story is we made Kingman by early Christmas Eve day. As I reflect on this now, one memory that seems etched in crystal is how happy my little sister was to see us. When thinking about the years of teasing her over if she was glad to see us or finally get her stuff, I can almost smile.
This year will be an odd one even though we are not a tight knit clan as there will be no holiday phone call with mother or my little sister. My dad and big sister will be here the week before Christmas, the first time we have been together during the holiday season since about 1967, but it will be to reflect on a passing rather to celebrate.
As always we will gather with my wife’s family and this year there are two wonderful bonuses, my grandson who will be almost eight weeks old, and our granddaughter. So, in the grand scheme of things I see us as being quite blessed.
Now, as promised, this is the first installment in my condensed version of the twelve days of Christmas. Topping my list of gift ideas would be books by Joe Sonderman, especially ideal for the road trip fanatic suffering from an early dose of cabin fever.
This happens to be one of my favorites. However, Joe has written a number of excellent titles and if you feel very generous it might be nice to give them all.
Books rate very high on my Christmas gift list. You can guess how popular I was with the kids at Christmas.
Now, here is a great title for whiling away the long winter evenings. I can absolutely promise this book will leave you with a very bad case of the “I want one” syndrome.
The Chrysler turbine car that had its zenith in the 1964 Ghia bodied models was a car before its time. So, the question left in my mind after reading this was can it be revisited.
Another aspect of this book that will surely inspire lively discussions is the topic of what happened to the American automobile industry. With such as displayed in the Chrysler turbine
One more. This title is an ideal gift for the armchair explorer or the rugged outdoorsman who leans toward the Indiana Jones side of life. As a bonus the proceeds from each sale with help stamp out poverty, namely mine.
On a more serious note, Ghost Towns of the Southwest is a book I would readily purchase as a gift for anyone that is fascinated by the history of the American southwest or that needs inspiration for a grand adventure.
It is my sincere hope that regardless of the trials or tribulations you are facing today, there will be time in your schedule to take a moment, reflect on the tradition and meaning of Christmas, and savor the simple blessings of memories made and memories to be made.

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