When we moved from just down the dirt road from Santa's place when I was not even finished grade one, the family first lived in a cabin near the same lake we spent that snowy Christmas. We even camped for a while when the cabin's owners wanted their summer place back and ma and pa had not decided on a place to buy in Dope City. Pa worked in the city during this time. The two of us slept on the grandparent's floor during the week. Pa worked while I went to school in the poorest neighbourhood in the city. That is where my grandma taught school.
On the weekends we would pile into the old Chevy and look for a place to live. In those days we did not realize we were looking for a house in neighbourhoods that would one day be on the TV news every night because of home invasions and gang warfare and police beatings.
We finally found a place in a suburb of Dope City called Sliverville. The town had long since been ransacked by loggers and people like us with too many kids and small bank accounts began filling the houses being built in the fields of blackberries and clover.
In the new house our TV picked up more than one channel. I think we could pick up a few with the rabbit ears if the weather was not too bad. Most of the time the weather was too bad though. We had moved from the sub-arctic to a land where it never stopped fucking raining. Where we had come from there was only one channel. And the phone had a crank on it. People think I am making up the part about the crank when I tell them but it is true. We were god damn hillbillies I guess.
We watched TV on black 'n' white sets. We watched it like that for years after colour ones glowed in the windows of TV stores. Dad was handy with anything electronic and any time one of the black 'n' white sets gave us any trouble he knew just where to slap it or solder it to make it good as new. Once in a while we would go up to the department store to get a new tube when no amount of well placed slapping or rabbit ear adjusting could get the hockey game tuned in on Saturday night. We only watched cable TV when we visited the neighbours. Cable TV had all the good cartoons.
In the morning of my 13th Christmas us kids were up at 4:00 AM like usual seeing what was in and under our stockings and playing with what we found. Nothing tastes as good as apples and Japanese oranges and chocolate at four in the morning.
Eventually ma and pa got up too. It was still dark. We continued playing with ma and pa until they could stand it no longer. Pa asked, "So what do you think," as he eyed the dim TV. It was then that we noticed they had set up a brand new colour TV after we had gone to sleep. I guess we were not the most observant little cretins. And the colour TV had cable.
We turned it on and watched the colours of the cable information channel sparkle like Christmas lights until some real shows came on. The black 'n' white got put in me and my brother's room. It was still great for watching late night horror flicks and playing pong on.
That Christmas we watched the Queen give her message to the Commonwealth on the colour TV and we knew she did not have a better set than ours. We had 26" of colour and cable and we could do one thing the Queen could not on Saturday night - watch the Leafs and the Rangers on Hockey Night In Canada.