Things I miss and don?t miss

One of my neighbors was raking leaves the other day, and as I was walking by, I made the comment that I missed the old days when burning leaves was permitted back in my hometown of Goessel.

We would spend the day raking the leaves into the ditches, then lighting them as the sun began to sink. The ritual would serve two purposes: We took care of the leaves without clogging the landfill, and we cleaned out our ditches so they would be ready to handle the spring rains.

As a result of that conversation in my neighborhood, I began to ponder some of the things I miss most. And, naturally, this led to thinking about things I don?t miss as well.

I miss the days when college basketball players committed to a program for four years instead of treating a university as a way to shop their talents to professional teams. I don?t miss the short period of time in the 1970s when dunking the basketball was illegal. That was just plain stupid.

I miss the anticipation of the arrival of the Sears catalog each Christmas season. I couldn?t wait to open that glorious book and dream about the gifts I would love to receive but knew I wouldn?t be seeing under the family tree.

I miss having bierocks for school lunches. I also miss cinnamon rolls at noon. I don?t, however, miss the canned grapefruit we were served back when I was in elementary school.

I miss the movie of the week when we only had three or four TV channels to choose from. I don?t miss the fact that we only had three or four channels.

I remember one summer in particular when the Watergate hearings dominated all the networks. I recall thinking that all the news departments should get together and rotate the coverage so I could watch my beloved ?Gomer Pyle? reruns when it was too hot outside to play.

I don?t miss eight-track tape players. Was that a disastrous era in musical technology or what? I remember having to stick my comb in the slot to keep the tape from playing two channels at the same time. I don?t carry a comb anymore. I miss the full head of hair I had in those days.

I miss watching a college or pro football game on TV without the constant interruption brought on by the statement, ?The previous play is under review.? Nearly every touchdown now brings a delay as officials decide whether the touchdown really happened. It gets annoying after a while.

The referees used to make a call, good or bad, and we had to live with it. I would, however, miss the yellow first-down line that we have become accustomed to on broadcasts if it went away.

I don?t miss glass ketchup bottles.

I miss the Miley Cyrus of the Disney days. I don?t miss hearing her dad?s rendition of ?Achy Breaky Heart.?

I don?t miss encyclopedias. If I need to know something, I have the Internet, which I can access from virtually anywhere.

I miss hearing Christmas music from a speaker on top of Miller Funeral Home in Goessel as I walked home from basketball practice.

I miss walking to the hospital with all the other elementary school students to carol on the last day before winter break.

I miss watching one or two classmates pass out during the Christmas program from having to stand on the risers too long.

I recall one particularly cold Christmas Eve in our church when the lack of oxygen caused by too many burning candles resulted in a shepherd?s fainting and falling into the middle of the nativity scene. The windows were opened, and the rest of the pageant was mercifully cancelled.

I miss family get-togethers at my grandparents? home. Times were simpler then. The men would sit around the living room, shelling and eating peanuts. The women would chat in the kitchen.

The kids, their faces red from the heat put out by the old gas stove, would run around the house, trying to contain their excitement as the adults took forever to call for the gift exchange to commence. Each child had to deliver a ?piece,? usually a poem or a song, before the presents were handed out. It was probably something his or her mother found in a magazine or a musical number from a school program.

And, finally, as we enter this holiday season, I miss the people who are no longer with us.

My hope and prayer is that they somehow know they will always be remembered.