My family was never particularly religious. I don’t ever remember a time we all went to a church. There were various books of worship in the house, but it was always left up to us if we wanted to read them.
But we loved Christmas.
In the days leading up to Christmas, the gifts would accumulate beneath the tree for all of us, me and my brother and my mom and dad. But the big gift, the main event, wouldn’t show up until Christmas morning.
Lots of my favorite toys as a kid showed up on Christmas morning. The Star Wars Death Star. The Millennium Falcon. But my all-time favorite Christmas present showed up in the Christmas of 1977. I still vividly remember sneaking down the hallway to the still darkened living room, before the sun had even come up yet, wondering what I would find, only to see this, an enormous box taller than I was.
Batman’s Wayne Foundation, from Mego. As I recall, it wasn’t even wrapped, it just sat there, propped against the coffee table, barely lit by the sunlight starting to peek through the skylight windows. My mother probably didn’t bother wrapping it because it was so big, but I like to think she knew that the shock value to my six-year-old mind of immediately seeing what it was would be far more satisfying, And it was.
And even though I loved this goofy-looking thing and kept it out of the box and assembled as much as possible year-round (much to my mother’s chagrin), in my mind I still to this day think of it as a Christmas thing, I suppose due to that white-hot shock of surprise from that Christmas morning so many decades ago.
So nothing seems more natural now, having rescued it from a crawl space in my parents’ house, than building the Wayne Foundation one more time and setting it up next to my own Christmas tree. The instruction sheet was still in the box, but I didn’t even need it. I could build this thing with my eyes closed.
May you all find a piece of your childhood joy under your own trees this season. Merry Christmas.