Due to the fact that I am sick with bronchitis we will be combining memories 6, 7, and 8. This picture is taken in either 1980 or 1981.
Memory 6: See that little elf sitting just under the bells that are hanging on the wall? His name is Ichabod and he has been in the family for years … watching for who is naughty and nice. I think he liked the kids and only took in the “nice” list because Santa always brought them a bag full of toys and no lumps of coal.
Memory 7: The kids got to open one present on Christmas Eve – which was always new pajamas or sweats. The picture shows the boys in their favorite pajamas of all time: Warren loved the Rams, Ryan the Steelers, and Brett the Cowboys. My children from left to right, Warren, Ryan, Brett, Kimberly, Angella.
Memory #8: The Spinning Wheel: This is the inside of the box that the children are standing in front of above. It was made by my grandfather, John B. Matheson around 1956 (my siblings may remember better than I do on this). Grandpa used to stock it with full sized candy bars and prizes and would share with his neighbors and friends as they went to his house during the holiday season. When we had our big family party he would stock it with special candy and prizes. When we would spin that bicycle wheel it would go around and around until it stopped with the “clicker” pointing at a number. Whatever number it stopped at would represent a kind of candy bar and that is what we would win. If it stopped on one of the red numbers we got a candy plus we got to pick one of the prizes from the shelves or those hanging on the door.
When Grandpa passed away his children took care of his estate and when all was said and done, the spinning wheel hadn’t been taken by someone … and I was delighted when I asked for it and it became mine. I didn’t realize what a responsibility it would be once the tradition was started!
I would shop for great deals all year long that would work for prizes, and right after Halloween I would stock up on miniature candy bars (quite a step down from the large candy bars Grandpa used to supply).
We would put the spinning wheel up on the 1st of December but we kept it locked except for one night a week when we would let the children have a spin … or unless they talked us into more than that. I use the word “locked” rather lightly because my children soon learned how to sneak candy out of it in in spite of our efforts to keep them out.
We were all excited to make invitations for the families in our small town to come to our annual open house and we would drive around and the children would run the invitations to each door. We would bake Christmas cookies and clean our house and the Saturday before Christmas we would have company all afternoon as families came to spin Grandpa’s Spinning Wheel. It was always a huge success and such a fun way to spread the Christmas cheer.
The last year I worked, 2006, I loaned it to TURN Community Services to be used as an incentive program in their employment day program for adults with disabilities. You can imagine how sad I was when I went to pick it up for Christmas in 2007, and it was gone. No one knew where it had been taken or where it was. And it has never showed up again. I miss it.
If wishing would bring it back … the spinning wheel would be in my front room, set up and ready for the Christmas Eve Open House once again. But since it’s not, we can all be grateful for the many, fun memories it created for over fifty years. Thank you, Grandpa Matheson.