My mom used to tell me a story about how I saved Christmas when I was a boy. My dad was deployed, so our family was just me, mom and my young sister.
We lived at Fort Lewis, in housing provided by the Army, and one year we had a tree. But dad had donated our lights and whatnot to…someone or some org in the Army. That part remains hazy.
So we had this unadorned sad tree in our fatherless sad house.
But I wasn’t going to let that abide. At school I had the opportunity to work myself into a frenzy, with scissors and unlimited glue, red and green construction paper, staples, popcorn, needles and string. I made grocery sacks full of linked paper rings and popcorn strings and brought them home.
The tears of loss and loneliness became happy tears then. At least that’s what my mother told me. I remember the colorful paper, but not how she felt about it. That part was her bit of the story, I thought I was just having fun.
But to this day I do love red and green together, a lot.
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My dad used to be a psychic when he was young, but mostly gave it up for reasons unknown. He told me that when he was young, he’d float outside of his body late at night back in old North Dakota.
He told me that his ghost self would just fly around the property and he’d look in on things. He stopped doing that sometime after he was a young man, because maybe young men didn’t do such things or believed in them.
He also told me that he had a pet raven, as much as a raven can be a pet. The raven would accompany him on his walks to school and give him gifts of shiny things sometimes. Tinfoil, beads, marbles that sort of thing. One day the raven just flew away. He probably became the young man equivalent of a raven and stopped believing in my dad.
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My own stories aren’t as fancy. When I was a kid I thought the Alaskan Airlines guy in their logo was Neil Diamond and I thought it was strange.
Well okay, I have one story to tell you. When I was five years old I was flown to Korea with my mom and sister. When I arrived I went from being a bright young boy to being stupid, because I didn’t have the language in me. I couldn’t even tell my kinfolk that I had go to the bathroom. I yelled and yelled and then died of embarrassment when I pissed myself as my family laughed, comprehension dawning on them at my foreign gibbering.
I know. I wasn’t actually stupid, but it’s the sort of thing that stays with you forever, even if you only remember the story once in a while.
Being in Korea wasn’t all bad though. I remember my uncle and mom taking me to a mountain where there were bright red plastic spoons attached to strings which were in turn attached to a cold mountain spring that you could drink out of. The kind of cold water that touches all the nerve endings on your insides.
Pretty sure that’s gone now.