As a kid, there is usually one Christmas that stands out from all the others. For me and my sisters – it has to be the Christmas we all got new bicycles. We did not get just any bikes, we received banana seat bikes. We grew up typical lower middle class, for all three kids to get new bikes at one Christmas was a BIG deal!!
One advantage we had growing up was that we had no concept of money. Dad worked hard and my mom was a 70s stay-at-home Mom. We lived in rural Mississippi. We had no idea what asking for 3 bikes meant financially, Santa made them with elves for free. Hearing about Dad’s depression era tales & adventures of walking to school 10 miles in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways, then picking cotton until bedtime; we thought we were rich by contrast. As a kid I did not question why it snowed in the south during the depression and no longer snowed here or even how it was uphill both ways. I got the point, he grew up in tough times.
To keep us in our world of innocence, Mom & Dad made sure we always had great Christmases. Earlier that same year Dad had even had Christmas in July getting himself a new truck (actually a truck that was new to him). As we rode our bikes at Christmas, we did not notice the absence of Dad’s new truck. Actually it was not until I was an upper teen that I learned that my Dad sold his new truck, bought an older one to use the money to buy us the bikes we wanted.
As kids, we never knew how close we were to being poor. Many of my bad financial decisions in life may be a result of that protection from reality when I was young. Mom and Dad never complained or discussed money in front of us and Christmas was a time they did whatever they needed to make it the best time of year for us.
If you notice on the photos…there are no gear shifts. The banana seat bikes had on 2 gears – right leg and left leg. A few months later Dad even upgraded my bike to have the higher back rail. I am sure it had a much cooler name than high back rail. My thin swimmers build body was not a result of swimming, it was the result of pedaling that bike up and down every hill within probably 3 miles of the house many, many times.
Knowing now how Dad sacrificed so much for us makes those memories even more exceptional. Mom and Dad made all Christmases special, but it will be hard to top the Christmas with 3 banana seat bikes.