Archive for December 13th, 2010

Jaren kissing me goodbye on his way to a Christmas Party

No, he doesn’t look a bit like the kindly grandfather-like figure in the 1951 movie version of “A Christmas Carol”, probably because I never had a grandfather. My Ghost of Christmas Past is a nebulous shape-shifter morphing around as he drags me from scene to scene. Since this isn’t about the guide, but the journey, it matters little since he does employ that cool fade technique.

Fade in:

Christmas morning. Suburban living room. 1950s.

An oval braided rug echos forest green drapes and the dark brown of a skirted sofa framed by blond wood side tables. Tree in one corner lit with bulbs the size of thumbs, some glowing white through scrapes and scratches in their paint and reflecting on massive amounts of tinsel. The sound and smell of percolating coffee invades from the kitchen. My maternal grandmother sits and smokes as we wait for Christmas to start.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, same house.

My brothers and I wear new flannel pajamas our mom made. A sewing basket sits beside the sofa. A sock with a light bulb stuffed in the toe awaits darning.

A walnut table has been added to the room. Intricately carved legs are my duty to dust. It had been in Grandma’s house before she died, now it is my mother’s.

A bicycle! What a beauty! Blue and white with a basket attached to the handlebars. Ribbons and bows.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, different house, different town.

Oak floors polished by some guy sliding my brothers and me around on towels to buff the wax. Much bigger tree, same strings of lights with more scratches. Dad promised French pancakes for breakfast. Christmas Eve dinner had been at the hotel with us running in and out of the kitchen and getting festive with the cooks and waitresses that worked for our dad.

We go to Mass. I’m in the fifth grade at St. Joseph’s and Sister Mary Stanislaus would not be happy if I didn’t put in an appearance. My father refuses to go through the motions … no genuflecting, no standing, no kneeling … and although I’m embarrassed by the idea that he doesn’t know what’s expected, he impresses me with scoffing. The music was nice, though, and I like to sing.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, different house, back to the first town, different family.

Crowded suburban house with a step-mother and five step-sibs in addition to me and two brothers. My mother sends fudge and a Barbie doll that looks like her. My brothers and I don’t share the fudge with the others.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, different town, apartment next to the freeway so new it smells like paint and plaster, just us again.

Tiny tree on a table in a small living room. Y.A. Tittle gives my little brother a football uniform. All our gifts are from someone famous. None say they are really from Dad, but we get the joke.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, different town, another new apartment.

Christmas dinner at a restaurant that makes great hot turkey sandwiches.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, different town, different family.

Chinese food with a new step-family.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, different town, different family.

Mom’s house in Small Town USA. Moronic step-father reads the paper upside-down … or might as well. Jenn and Jaren are little and my brothers wear out the batteries in their Star Trek communicators before Christmas Eve is over. I get a TV from Mom. A brother gets an ID bracelet.

A turkey neck simmers on a back burner, the grinder comes out from the bottom drawer and a turkey is stuffed with Grandma’s recipe. Green jello. Stuffed celery. Pumpkin pies on the washing machine.

Fade to: Calendar flipping through years …

Fade in:

Christmas Day, huge Victorian house in mid-town California city.

A tree stands fourteen-feet tall in the doorway, lights reflected in the oak floors. Burgundy walls and green rugs add a festive feel.

Husband once again has coerced me into letting him open one gift on Christmas Eve. As always, he chooses the BIG box with the fancy wrapping paper. As he does every year, he falls for the socks. Jenn is home from college. Jaren is living in the basement apartment. Brothers are there with girlfriends. Dad has written a poem and we give him a computer. Step-sisters come with Chinese food and their families. The guys play basketball in the living room once the mayhem of gift opening is cleared.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different, different house, different country, different husband.

Doors wide open to catch the morning breeze as the plastic tree rotates. Cj crawls around wearing Rudolf antlers. Sam waits for Christmas to start as the kettle boils. The mess from the annual Christmas Eve party has been cleared away. We open our gifts, smile, play with the kids and their new toys, then dress and head to Gay’s for Christmas lunch.

Dissolve to:

Same day, different year, same house, no husband.

Friends spend Christmas Eve with us and are still around in the morning to help open gifts and spread cheer. Fiance is on Skype from Mexico watching and commenting and hopes are expressed that the next year won’t see us so far flung. Kids play with their new stuff.

Fade to black.

If life is to follow Victorian fiction, these scenes should dovetail into a viz from a Ghost of Christmas Present where I learn yet more about the true meaning of this holiday.


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