Nov 23rd 2010 7:41AM As a kid I would spend most Christmas's at my mother's childhood home in Pennsylvania. All the children would play down in the stone-walled basement with the coal furnace, storage rooms and coal cellar the whole holiday while the grownups played cards and visited with each other upstairs. We prayed for snow. Few holiday memories have even come near to the reveries created by planning little "shows" for the people "above the stairs", singing carols and bossing our younger cousins around! I can still smell the mixture of coal dust and my grandma's shelves packed with tempting cookies, cakes and candies. (Oh, yes, we would get in big trouble there. Carefully, we pried the tops of the old tins open, took our booty and then tried to re-arrange the contents to look like the same amount of goodies were there. We were really good at it but occassionally would get caught when we got too greedy!)
AND there was the delight we had when you were chosen to be the child who had been good that day and got to turn on the red electric wreaths in each window as it got dark. Our family believes in lots of shiny and bright decorations for the season. After spending Christmas's in grandma's glorious "Bet Miller", flashy and trashy Christmas house, the season is not right without several tons of decorations each year. We still go to my mother's (she is 85) and spend a full day working on her Christmas "stuff". Lights are everywhere and every flat surface inside and out of the house is decorated with nativities, ceramic trees, plastic snowmen and little vingettes of Christmas scenes.
My younger years were spent being very poor and my grandparent's were well to do and their house seemed like heaven. My dad was a sailor and I have 5 brothers and sisters. For most of my childhood I lived in a four room house with about 800 or 900 square feet and 7 other people. The special and abundant foods, the extra attention, Father Christmas bringing the tree (German tradition) on Christmas Eve, overflowing presents and some freedom to play every day without work was truly glorious.This was what we believed the stuff the Sugar Plum Fairy brings to good girls and boys and nothing else ever compared to going to Grandma's house for Christmas.
All the children slept in the attic on cots. It was a spooky old place with tall rafters and piles of old furniture and riff-raff---the accumulation of the lifetimes of many generations passing in that old house. But, we loved huddling together for warmth and whispering into the night. As we were just under the roof,sleeping in the attic one Christmas Eve, and Santa's reindeer landed on just above us! Jingle bells and the tapping of each tiny hoof sent us running downstairs to the light and joyously we shouted, "Santa is here; he is on the roof!" We were terrified; we were estatic. It was wonderful. ( I was very deflated years later when it was confirmed my Uncle Bob had gotten a "snoot-ful" and climbed on the roof from a ladder to impress us with a visit from Saint Nick! It was worse than knowing there was no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy!)
These memories and so much more are my "prize possessions" as it is not the norm these days to pack so many people into an old four bedroom house for a week. My great grandparents lived there, my grandparents,and my great-uncle Frank too. Add 2 sisters,their husbands and large broods and you have one cram-jammed house. It was lovely; it was oh-so-christmassy, and I wouldn't trade those days for all the jewels in the Queen's crown. I don't believe I will ever see anything like those precious days again.
Oct 6th 2008 9:52AM This type of crime is an offense on so many levels. The fact the child was "blank-faced"--implying that he had no reaction to being caught--is the most disturbing part of this senario. Acting out in this manner warrants intervention by the justice and child protection system in Australia. Ordinary parents with day to day discipline systems are not equipped to deal with the behaviors exibited by this child. He needs to be under direct and intense supervision by people with some experience and training in child development and behavior management skills. It should be very apparent his parents have NOT engaged him in health socialization development and no longer deserve to have their child at home with them. This is not youthful exuberance or the result of watching "nature" shows. No animal on earth would throw other living animals into the clutches of a killer for their own entertainment. This human should not be released into general society if and until he lives many years with much less aggressive behavior. One shocking tragedy this family has contributed to is enough. This is not a "poor little boy" scenario...it is dead serious.