Friday, April 2, 2010

New Bikes for Christmas

I had a friend down the street who lived with his married sister. His household was also crazy. He was a total outsider in their house and wasn't included in any Christmas activities there. The weekend after Christmas he and I were doing god knows what over in Houghton Park and saw these two kids riding around on their brand new Schwinn Sting Ray type bicycles. I'm sure they got them for Christmas. We were totally jealous and asked if we could ride them. They said no, and when we couldn't convince them otherwise, we just took them. They didn't want to give them up, but they truly had no choice in the matter.

You know, although I feel terrible about this now. I didn't feel a thing at the time. Well, that's not entirely true. I felt very angry at those kids and would have gladly beaten the crap out of them. They had new bikes, and I had a new pair of pajamas. Oh yeah, and a broken Stadium Checkers game. I didn't even really want the bike. I wanted one of my own. I hated those kids for getting something nice for Christmas.

We knew we couldn't just ride these bikes around openly because people would be looking for them, and us, maybe even the police. So we hid them in a shed across the alley from my friend's house. We then shoplifted some spray paint, stripped the bikes down, and changed their colors. We didn't even get to really enjoy them because somebody stole them out of the shed after we'd only ridden them a few times.

For the next few decades, the holiday season mostly depressed me, or I just tried to ignore it all together. I usually had to administer some self prescribed medication (if you know what I mean), and lots of it, to make it through that time of the year.

It took having kids (and lot's of therapy) for me to understand what it was all about. I know my appreciation of the holiday season isn't what it should be, even today. But I love seeing young ones eat it all up. I understand that it's a happy time. And that you don't need a lot of money for it to be good, you just need to be around those you love. Then it all falls into place.


  1. You were as much a victim on that day as those other poor kids were, it just took a decade or two longer for you to realise that. I'm glad you finally found a safer place to begin to heal.

  2. It's funny how Christmas isn't what it's supposed to be for so many of us. I'm glad you got something of your sense of joy back at the season.

  3. I'm glad you've got this figured out now. A lot of people get whacked out over the holidays and can't figure out why. Those times just represent SO much and there are so many unrealistic expectations.

    Go buy some bikes for some kids who can't afford them and the universe may call it even.

  4. Well it sounds like you grew from your mistakes. And it least now you have the ability to move forward and be able to love and feel happiness around the holidays. BTW...don't mean to be "that guy,"but Schwinns are horrible, Huffy bikes rule!!!! You did those kids a favor as far as I'm concerned. Happy Friday Follow. Whatever that means.

  5. Love is the most important thing. I'm so happy that you found it.

  6. you sure are lucky you have me around every year.... lol.

  7. Well said. I agree, you don't need a lot of money to make Christmas happy for kids.

    I am glad you found family and love.

  8. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting! I'm not sure how many posts of this nature there are left in me, but it's several...

    Shrinky - Me too! I remember feeling that those kids needed to feel what I was feeling. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Sarahjayne - Now I even hang Christmas lights!

    Betty - Believe me, I've done that! Also, until just recently, I've been involved with a group that selects a childrens shelter each Christmas and provides gifts and a feast for them.

    Copyboy - I did grow from my mistakes, but it took a couple of decades to do so. These days Schwinn and Huffy are pretty equal. I now have a TREK, and I'm happy to say, I didn't beat somebody up for it!

    Tina - I sure did find it. I found a ton of it!

    Ashley - Sweet Ashley... You are indeed one of the reasons that I now enjoy Christmas...

  9. I know it feels good to get all this out of your system. I think you realize today that stealing the bikes was wrong, but back then, you didn't have any other way to express yourself.
    I love hearing about all these learning experiences in your life.

  10. Christie - you are right. It's the simple things that make it good.

    Joe - Thanks! It does feel good. Lot's of experiences, that's for sure. Some won't find their way on my blog though... I appreciate your comments alot!

  11. A good case of live and learn. I can't get enough of your stories. You really need to sell a book and an audio book. It would be cool to hear you reading your stories out loud.

  12. Great story Pat! We've all been there in some fashion and had to learn the errors of our ways. And you are so right about how much you can learn when you look through a child's eyes. Very well written post!

  13. Pat, I gave you an award today on my blog :)

  14. I'm still jealous of kids who get bicycles for the holidays.
    Thanks for another great snippet, Pat.

  15. Karen - Thanks! Seriously...

    Robyn - Lot's more snippets to come! Thanks

  16. Jerry - Thanks! Thts a nice compliment. Maybe when I get this stuff all posted I can try to tie it all together. Not sure if I'm capable...

    Tom - thanks for reading and commenting. I've sure had a lot of opportunity to learn!

  17. Another amazing story! You know Pat, I was fortunate and enjoyed Christmas during my childhood, it's in my later years that I've grown to dread them.

  18. Was one of the stingrays green? I mean when you took it? I think it was mine... green with a white seat.

  19. Ms Anthropy - Thanks! Lot's of messes to clean up, that's for sure!

    Brenda - Umh er ah, no! It was red with a black seat. Yeah, that's right...

  20. It's easy to say the simple things in life are the things which make one happy but it's hard to be happy when you are missing some really interesting, fun - (expensive) - things too.

    It's a vicious circle. Obviously the children with the new bikes wouldn't have wanted to lend them to you and your friend. I expect they knew they might not get them back. It would be interesting to know what happened to them in the next hours, days, even years.

    Many of us who aren't very well off live in a contradiction; we know we are better off than most people in the world; we know love is more important than money; but we also know that, despite everything, we would feel a little more relaxed, a little happier - if we had a little more!

    And, as for children, we generally ask them to live a contradiction too. We suggest they value what they have, that simple, ordinary things are of immense value (etc.) but, simultaneously, we encourage them 'to aspire'. Why else would we be sending them to school, telling them to get good careers . . . ?

    I'm wondering what you might make of


  21. Hi Lucy,
    Thanks so much for taking to the time to write such a long comment and for putting so much thought into it. I appreciate it.
    I went to the link and read the first five chapters. Very interesting so far. He's just discovered the plastic bricks. I'm hoping he stacks them to escape the cave. I'll try to read more tomorrow. It's quite a nice story

  22. I really loved the last few lines: they're so true!

  23. Thanks Sarah, I agee. It took me a long time to catch on to that...

  24. My friend and I had our bikes stolen from the middle school bike racks a long time ago. Turns out a group of other kids at the middle school were in a 'gang', and their job was to steal bikes. The police investigated, and ended up retrieving my friends bike, but mine had already been sold (at least that's what I assumed).

    After my bike was stolen, I got a ride to school every morning.... I didn't have to wake up an hour earlier to ride my bike in the stupid cold weather in the morning. I was in a heated car!

    Then I started to think, 'What if somebody steals my parent's cars?' Maybe I'll get taken to school in a helicopter, or something similar. I wasn't a very bright kid..... lol

    We all do stupid things when we're younger. Then we mature and we (most of us) learn from our mistakes. You're a good man Pat (I get that from what I've read!)


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