JOHN OSTRANDER: Christmas Treasures, Part 1
I have my Christmas favorites on DVD or TV that I watch every year. They include A Christmas Carol (the Reginald Owen version and the much better Alastair Sim version as well as, oddly, Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol which adds songs and does a pretty fair job of summing up the story in less than a half hour), It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and the cartoons – How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Karloff beats Carey hands down) and, of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
And, a day or so after Christmas, I add in Bad Santa just to wash all the treacle away. Your choices may differ and that’s fine – these are mine.
My best Christmas was probably the one when I proposed to my late wife, Kim Yale, on Christmas Eve. I had bought the ring and I was pretty sure she would say yes but I was still nervous. Kim and I opened presents on Christmas Eve so I mapped out my strategy. My gifts included a Tim Truman sketch of GrimJack (one of Kim’s faves and part of our becoming a couple), signed by Timbo and carrying the Gaunt message: “You’ve done right by my pal so far, sweetheart. How about makin’ it permanent?”
Then she got a specially made teddy bear (Kim was huge on teddy bears) that was a GrimJack teddy bear and he was holding a poem from me, a sonnet that would up with my proposal (I made her read it aloud) and as she finished reading it, I brought out the ring. Kim took a dramatic pause (she was great at dramatic pauses) that were the longest seconds of my life but then she said “Yes!” and we off to the races.
That was our first Christmas together. The hardest one was our last.
Kim had breast cancer and she was dying of it. I knew that but she didn’t; her cancer doctor had called me with the news but insisted I not tell her. It might make her give up, he insisted. So, for a while, I went along with that.
Kim was in the hospital a lot at that point; her immune system was in bad shape from the chemo and the radiation. She didn’t like being there alone so I spent a lot of nights there with her. It wouldn’t have been possible without our friend, Mary Mitchell, who spelled me many nights. We were joined later on by my friend Joe Edkin, who would spell us both.
It was trying some times. People would come to visit and Kim would rally her energy, putting on what we referred to as “the Kimberly Show.” This is no criticism of our visitors, who gave lovingly of themselves and were very welcome, but afterwards Kim would have no energy left for me, Mary, and Joe, and sometimes that was hard.
It came to a boil at Christmas. Holidays bring out the best and worst of us. Kim’s final Christmas brought a bit of both in me.
More next time.
MONDAY: Mindy Newell