Abp Listecki and Ralphie from A Christmas Story

I know that Christmas is more than just gift giving. However, I do identify with “Ralphie,” the character in “A Christmas Story,” who desired a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. This was the gift he longed for. It occupied his attention and he never failed to let his desire be known. He told his parents, his teacher and even Santa Claus. But alas, it seemed beyond his reach.

For me, that gift was a bicycle. I had come of age (8), and a bicycle was a symbol of maturity. It would give me status among my neighborhood peers and it would make me mobile. No training wheels, this would be the real deal two wheeler — a big boy’s bike. However, I knew that we were not rich and, plain and simple, the bicycle would be outside of the family budget. I believed that it would just remain a nice dream.

A couple of days before Christmas, I was in the kitchen with my Mom. She had asked me if I completed a task that my aunt and uncle asked me to do. Since my aunt and uncle lived with us in the front, first floor of our two-story home, I figured that I would just ask them. Before my mother could stop me, I walked into their apartment. There in the living room was a shiny, new Blackhawk (German-made) bicycle shipped from Marshall Field’s in Chicago. My jaw dropped. What was that bike doing in my aunt and uncle’s living room? At first, it didn’t make sense, but it suddenly became clear that this was my Christmas present. My mom, following me on my heels, shook her head as my aunt and uncle shrugged their shoulders in a gesture that said, “What could we do, he just burst in?” They had all been so careful to keep the surprise under wraps until Christmas Day, and now the surprise was spoiled. But really, it wasn’t.
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  1. When Archbishop Dolan was relatively new to Milwaukee, and his brother Bob was still part of a morning team on WISN radio, the Archbishop would occasionally call in to the show. Once during Christmas season, Tim and Bob were reminiscing about Christmas at the Dolan home. This was back in the days of, say, a toy filling station complete with service bay lifts which was sold in a box as a stack of sheet metal components and a set of directions like 'insert tab L into slot Q'. As I remember their conversation, Tim recalled hearing their father late Christmas Eve cursing in frustration while assembling such toys. Bob piped in with "After a couple of Falstaffs."

    Except for the brand of beer, it sounded just like growing up in Milwaukee!


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