‘Taking Christmas’ on Labor Day

Published 11:00 pm Friday, September 7, 2012

“Taking Christmas” wasn’t anything that my mama did very often.

But, after we’d had a house full of company, especially on holidays, and the dinner dishes had all been washed, the kitchen cleaned up and the goodbyes and y’all comes had been said, Mama would sit down on the sofa and say, “Well, I’m fixin’ to take Christmas.”

And she would be in for a well-deserved afternoon of rest.

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I “took Christmas” myself on Labor Day. But it wasn’t the kind of taking that came after a tiring morning of cooking and entertaining kinfolks. I had been planning all week long to “take Christmas” on the last holiday of summer.

I’m not a couch potato. I don’t even like television. I only watch it when I can’t find anything else to do.

The world could come to an end and I wouldn’t know it if I was depending on the television to alert me.

I have friends who stand ready to call me on my landline if aliens from outer space invade the Earth or the polar cap melts and Alabama is about to be washed into the Gulf of Mexico.

But every now and then, when I don’t have anything better to do, I turn on the television and search for something worthy of watching.

About six months ago, I found myself in that situation. As I “remoted,” from Channels 1 to 125, I happened upon “The Waltons.” I remembered seeing that show years ago and I remembered it was worth watching.

As bad as I hate to say it, I got hooked.

“The Waltons” come on Channel 20 weeknights at 7 o’clock and again at 8 o’clock. I try to arrange or disarrange my schedule to include at least one episode. I’ve given notice that I will not answer the telephone between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m. If it’s an emergency, call 911.

What was so exciting about Labor Day and my plans to “take Christmas” was that there would be four episodes of “The Waltons” plus the “Walton Reunion” AND, at 1:30 p.m. there would be a showing of “Spencer’s Mountain,” which was the basis for the television series, “The Waltons” and it was filmed in the most heavenly place on earth, Wyoming’s Teton Mountains.

And on top of all that, “Spencer’s Mountain” was filmed in the Grand Teton National Park during the summer of 1963 and when I was an employee of Yellowstone National Park. Every minute of the summer that I wasn’t changing beds and flushing toilets in tourist cabins was spent hiking and camping in Jackson Hole, the heart of the majestic Tetons.

Jackson Hole was a 90-mile “hitch” from Yellowstone and the little tourist town of Jackson was a square of souvenir shops and saloons. Exercising our freedom and great “universal” experiences, we, the college savvy, summer park employees, chose the saloons over shopping.

So did Hollywood movie star Henry Fonda, who was on location in Jackson. He was playing the father of the Spencer brood in “Spencer’s Mountain.”

He was as old as most of our daddies but he sure didn’t act much like my daddy. He’d dance with all the girls and horse around with the boys. He was quite a card.

But I was so much in awe of the beauty of the Grand Tetons, that movie stars had to take a backseat to Mother Nature.

I don’t remember seeing “Spencer’s Mountain” when it came out and to the Pike Theater. I did see it as a mature adult quite a few years ago.

But I was excited to sit back and “take Christmas” and see it again on Labor Day, sandwiched between episodes of “The Waltons.” Once again, I was young and back camping along the Snake River and resting my eyes on the majestic Grand Teton Mountains.

I’ve had a lot of Christmases in my life and every one has been very special. I’ve had the pleasure of just that many Labor Days but I don’t remember any one being special except the one when I, like Mama, “took Christmas.”