Hello retorjunkers, this will be my second article of 80's-90's nostalgia. I really enjoy writing these articles and hope you enjoy reading them just the same. As always feel free to offer suggestions and constructive criticism.

Without further shuffled feet, I give you. The Bestest Christmas Ever?

There's simply no denying it. Christmas is the most important time of most children's calendar year. I say most because I wish to remain sensitive to other cultures. Eight days of presents? Yeah I was a little Jelly.

Back to Christmas. Leading up to the big day was even bigger than the actual day itself. Countless hours spent watching Saturday morning cartoons, trying to strategically pin point items on an ever growing list to Mr. Claus. It was like a game, "which items are likely and which are pure fantasy". You had to put down at least one "best case" scenario item. Knowing you were likely not to receive it. In 1984 my "holy grail was"...

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That thing had to weigh a hundred pounds!

That's right, THE GI JOE TRAIN SET! BAM!, I was tied up in knots over this thing from August-Dec24th. My dad had a train collection when he was a kid. Heck, he had built me and my two brothers a model train scene in the garage. He simply must understand that this train set was key to my survival as an eight year old boy. There was just one hitch, my dad wasn't a big fan of non-historic train sets.

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Hell this was worse than "you'll shoot your eye out". This was a father, a grown man with a bone to pick.He had his preferences and wasn't afraid to make them known. He had "already built us a perfectly good train set" as referenced earlier...and did I mention said train set sat woefully underused/neglected in the garage?

This was a terrible blow to my young psyche. This train set had become somewhat of an obsession. Not to mention I told all of the guys at Francis Asbury Elementary school that I would be receiving one for Christmas. Just imagine, if you will. The envy on the other boys faces. This set had over 100 plastic infantry men, several dozen tanks and vehicles. A HUGE plastic mat battlefield and a fully functional TYCO train. Excuse me while I reference "jelly" again.

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Holy #@*% this is awesome!

The Joe's were fully represented as well. The train was all theirs. They had helicopters, and both sides had "working" paratroopers. This set just keeps getting better and better.

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Feast your eyes!

I worked myself in to a pretty good frenzy. Not only would I own the coolest toy in the third grade. I would be the envy of my peers. I just had to convince my dad of the importance. No easy task, I'm afraid.

I did my level best to convince the old man. Flattery, bribery and low cunning. But he was a rock. Not to be swayed. It was going to come down to the wire. I would have to sweat it out.

The big day finally arrived. Like most years my brothers and I were up and at the tree at around three am. We just couldn't sleep and my parents had decided long before to let us up early and wear ourselves out. Besides the house would be full of aunts and uncles the next day and they could use the quiet. It's funny how as an adult I see the genius in this plan.

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Now my parents were never big in to wrapping our presents. It was a "what you see is what you get" deal which I attribute solely to my dad. I can still imagine my mom waking him and him shuffling, carrying arms full of toys and dumping them under the tree. With my mom following behind to carefully rearrange. To this day this thought still brings a smile to my face.

This Christmas day held only one surprise. Yes I got the train set. Yes I was super stoked and my dad even helped me set it up on the dining room table. Yes we all marveled at the sheer number of pieces and the scale of it all. The surprise as it happened was nothing that any of us could have foreseen.

That afternoon as we ran the train set round and round and strategically maneuvered our soldiers we heard a strange sound. A loud SCREEEEEEEEEEEEECH, followed by a crash and a BANG. My dad ran out front to see what the commotion was. He ran back inside and told my mom to call 911. It seems a car had crashed in to the house across the street.

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Epic representation!

My good friend Billy lived in that same house. My dad ran across the street and brought Billy in to our home. He was dazed and shaken as should be expected. His mother was down the street at his grandparents house preparing Christmas dinner. She didn't even know what had happened yet. The driver, it turns out was drunk and only had a few scratches.

At that point I tried to entertain Billy with my new pride and joy. He stared blankly as my brothers and I went through the motions of enjoying ourselves. He cried for his mother and I sat in silence. His mother soon arrived and he was shuffled off. I was left with my thoughts. Thoughts of thankfulness, and of sadness too. I had received the greatest Christmas gift ever, not a toy. But the knowledge that my friend was safe and sound, and that my family would do anything to help those in need.

I thank you reader for following me down this path of memories, and I hope that you and yours are safe and sound...no matter the season.