…..I lived all alone in a city far from my family. It was winter, almost Christmas, and I had no money for a tree. My TV and VCR had been pawned to buy shoes for work. And work was getting slim…..
My nephew, who’d always loved spending weekends with me, didn’t mind the lack of a TV. We played Connect Four, Monopoly, Othello, Battleship, Trouble, and all kinds of card games. I kept craft supplies and we painted, created, and built. Plus, I still had my stereo….
We also spent lots of time at parks and even splurged on rare trips to the movies. Libraries were always part of our agenda. At least ten or twenty books came home with us every time we visited.
Even when he was twelve, Nephew came for weekends and, by that time, his little sister came some, too. She was much more attached to their mom and hated being away from her for very long…..
Anyway……..it was winter and almost Christmas. Nephew and Niece wanted to come spend the weekend and I reminded Sister of my limited funds. She asked if they could please just come and of course, I said yes. In a rare turnabout, she provided for me. She brought groceries, including snacks, and a little table top tree, complete with ornaments and lights. Wow.
It was too cold for the park, but we had a blast playing games, making ornaments and reading books; even cooking and cleaning. Niece felt very grown up helping with laundry and Nephew could actually cook a casserole, and I let him.
Saturday evening rolled around and we were thinking about what to do, when Nephew suggested the Narnia tapes.
A few years previously, I’d stumbled upon a radio theater broadcast of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It was taped in London and produced by a branch of Focus on the Family. It was stunning. I managed to tape the broadcast and Nephew and I had listened to it many times; Niece had never heard it.
We popped corn, made hot chocolate, dragged all the mattresses and blankets into the living room, lit candles and turned off the lights. When we were all in our jammies and cozy, I started the tape….the music filled the room and Douglas Gresham (Lewis’ step-son) introduced the presentation. No one made a sound; even the crunching of popcorn seemed to be muted.
The soft glow of candlelight and the magical twinkling of colored lights lent an air of believability to the sounds of Lucy entering Narnia, the discovery of Tumnus’ capture, meeting Aslan for the very first time, the great battle…..all of it.
I watched Niece’s eyes grow wide in her beautiful expressive face and I heard her sharp intakes of breath….she was captivated, like her brother and I. I had to play it again as we went to sleep, camped out on the living room floor, swathed in the light of multi-colored stars and the sounds of another world all around us.
When things got better, I went to the website and got the CD versions of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew. I’ve listened to them both over the years, mostly at Christmas because that’s when I first heard them.
My nephew asked to borrow the discs a couple years ago, but I didn’t have them anymore. He seemed genuinely disappointed…..
With the release of the movies, I’ve longed to listen to the beautiful adaptations again. The other night, after seeing a trailer on the internet for The Dawn Treader, I made up my mind to get another copy. I’m listening to Wardrobe right now….as I write this.
Well known stage and film actors, a live orchestra, Foley artists, and atmosphere out the wazoo, make these adaptations completely amazing. You know how you read a book and use your own imagination? And, how you see a movie and want to close your eyes and keep the images? Listening to these Cd’s is just like that….a book being brought to life in your head, that sounds like a movie….
When I went looking for a new copy, I found….wait for it…….the whole collection – for the same price I originally paid for just the Wardrobe disc.
Want to know a secret? I bought two sets. One for me, and one for……..
****Edit: Um, sorry if I’ve misled you all! The other set is for something coming up at the end of the month!****
This is my entry for the Christmas Tales Blogfest hosted by Ellie Garrett. Be sure to go over and check out all the other entries…..
When I decided to share some Christmas memories in the form of stories, I didn’t know what I was getting in to. I’ve gone off in directions I hadn’t expected and had to dredge up feelings and allow myself to be what I call emotionally naked. Something will pop into my head and demand to be written and I’m finding I have no idea what’s coming out until it’s there, no matter how hard it is for me. This one is very personal….
I’m going to ask you to do something. Please play the video, softly, then begin reading.
This one is for my very own, real CindyLoo….
Things are kinda busy here, as You well know. It’s my favorite time of year and I really want to recapture that special magic that it used to have.
Funny, isn’t it, how it’s my favorite thing I got from Mom, my love of Christmas….I wish she could be here but knowing she’s with You makes it alright. Tell her I said hello and that I love her, would You?
I have a blog now and for Christmas, I’m posting stories from (mostly) my childhood. It’s kinda scary, though, the way it’s turning out. Things are coming out of me I hadn’t expected. Like this letter….
I’ve been thinking a lot about Sister lately. She’s pretty much made herself unwanted with everyone else but me. I suppose because I can remember when things were different and she was a different person….
We used to spend whole days shopping at Christmas. Even when we had no money, we’d find ways to get everyone something. And we’d laugh the whole time. Do You remember the time with the race track for Brother? I wrote about that. She was a great Santa. Brother probably doesn’t remember – he was still pretty young.
We always called each other on our birthdays. She never forgot to call….
She was the one who went with me to the doctor and she stayed with me when they told me I was probably going to die without immediate surgery. I was so scared. I wouldn’t have made it without her there. She was the one who drove me home, 11 days later, and we laughed about getting stopped for speeding and me getting taken in because I had lost so much weight and I looked like a junkie…all those IV’s.
She wanted me in the hospital room with her when Niece was born. I’ve never witnessed anything as miraculous as Niece being born. My arms shook from holding her upright during her epidural….and she never cried out in pain. Not once. Even though the epidural didn’t take.
Remember what a mess she was when First Niece was born and she came to live with You? I think that messed her up a lot….along with so many other things.
Nephew has forgotten how she was all he had for so many years. He has a right to be angry about later; but for a long time…she was it.
So much has happened….and I don’t know if it can be fixed. It would have to be You. She won’t listen to anyone else, not even me.
And now…… now, it’s Christmas and I have no idea where she is except lost in the dark.
I guess what I really wanted to say, well, to ask, was….would You send some angels to watch over her? To keep her safe? Would You whisper to her when she sleeps and tell her that I remember? That I know that locked under all the pain and anger and hurt and fear and regret and sorrow and loss….is the self she used to be? And that it’s okay to feel all those feelings and that it’s safe to come back out?
Would You hold her in Your hand and make her feel safe and healed and whole?
I miss her. I miss the she she used to be. I miss the we that we once were. But even if we could not be as we as we once were, I would wish that she could be the she You want her to be. That’s my Christmas wish, Daddy.
I will hold all the memories in my heart and cherish them. I will nurture them with all my hope and love till that day the wish becomes reality….
It’s getting late and I need a tissue, so I’m going to end here. Just please, consider my wish….
Thank You, Daddy
I’ll be in touch….
Love and hugs….
And Happy Birthday,
To which came the reply, “IT IS SANTA CLAUSE! MAMA, I HEAR SANTA CLAUSE!!! SANTA CLAUS IS HERE!!!!”
Well, today kicks off the official Christmas shopping season. I haven’t decided if I’m going to go out into the chaos or not. Being sick, I won’t care if people are rude.
This is the season that really makes me miss my mom. Our relationship was difficult, but we had a few things in common and the absolute love of Christmas was one of them.
I get all nostalgic and remember the days of Christmas cards arriving in the mail and being taped around doorways and on the refrigerator. Making Santas at school and curling paper with scissors for his beard and using cotton balls for his hat. I remember the wonder of waking up and finding our stockings filled with the candies and bubble gum that we always wanted and rarely got. Back in those days, they were a treat, not a staple.
It seemed like people got along better and treated each other more kindly. Time moved a bit slower and there was more meaning to things. Now, we live in a disposable society that requires instant gratification. We’ve forgotten, to a large degree, how to cherish.
For that reason and so many others, Christmas has become dear to me. I want to slow down and savor it. I want to feel the cold air and smell the pine trees. I want to bake cookies and wrap gifts. I don’t want to feel required to go into debt or make anyone else fee that way. I want the times when we got a gift, one gift (or a couple more-not piles and piles like people seem to expect today) that was special and meant something to the giver and to me. I want to find a measure of the Christmases we used to have and bring it, as a kind of gift, to my family and friends so they can experience what was once a truly magical time.
Because my mom somehow made it special for us, while living in a poverty we were unaware of, the memories I have of Christmas are terribly special. ***So, fair warning: I’m going to be sharing those stories throughout the month of December.*** (I intend to get the blog published one day and may share it with family members who want a copy. At the very least, I want a copy for myself. This is the first ‘diary’ I’ve ever kept!)
What do you want for Christmas?
Are any of you old enough to remember cruising? I never really got into it, until I moved out and got an apartment with a friend from middle and high school.
She was… adventurous. The story begins….
In smalltown, a few miles up the road from my neck of the woods, MM and I were hanging out in the Hardee’s parking lot, talking to a couple of really cute city cops. It’s 2am and all is quiet. Cop 1 is telling us about scuba diving in Florida and Cop 2 is laughing, sitting at the wheel.
A big black older car goes through the drive through, and, upon receiving his order, peels out of the parking lot, squealing tires all the way to the stop light. Mind you, this Hardee’s was right next door to two housing developments. A sleepy little area where people were in bed and lights out by 11pm. Cop 1 says “Gotta go!” and Cop 2 is in hot pursuit. They wanted to remind the driver of the late hour and to slow it down. No intention of handing out a ticket. It was that kind of town. Think Andy Griffith.
Driver Dude, upon seeing the flashing blue lights, takes off. MM and I look at one another and say “Wow! Did you see that guy?!! OOOooooOOOO, he’s gonna be in trouble!!”
Some of MM’s friends had, in the meantime, pulled into the parking lot. They shouted that we should all get into one car and follow them and see who it was. Sounded like a plan. We piled six people into a Beetle and took off.
MM and I were sitting across the laps of the two guys in the back seat, hanging on for dear life, while the two guys in the front tried to navigate, steer, and function as lookouts. They did a great job of keeping up with everyone.
We went through Caldwell, Catawba, Burke and Watauga counties. Driver Dude topped speeds of 100mph, caused several minor police car wrecks, ran even more city and county law enforcement cars out of gas, and eventually headed up the mountain, where he crashed through the fence at The Green Park Inn. (The fence is gone now, replaced by a low rock wall.)
The tag on the front of his car read, ‘Drive like hell, you’ll get there.’ All the cops had a good laugh over the tag. They opened the trunk of his car and found lots of drugs-the reason he had panicked.
That was the only time I ever visited the Inn. I never got further than the parking lot. But I have to admit that my stay, albeit brief, was memorable.
Since our weekend plans fell through, my Saturday goal is to get the house as clean as possible in anticipation of the November kickoff of NaNo. What have I accomplished so far? If avoiding counts for anything, I’m off with flying colors!
I was completely in love with Jeannie. Not in that kind of way! Barbara Eden totally captured and embodied the role of Jeannie. She seamlessly personified a kind of sultry, sexy innocence that made her character lovable to men and women alike. I loved her comical expressions and angry outbursts. It is from her that I picked up the habit of stomping my foot when I’m angry. (A habit I still have.) I also learned from her the wide-eyed look of innocence. You know, the one where she would try to bluff her way out of some catastrophe she had created. I use it when I’m being a smart a** for a laugh. It’s pretty effective, too.
The idea of coming from the mysterious Far East, being alive for over 2,000 years, and having the power of magic….it was like fairy dust to my imagination. I wanted to be her, to have her power and her innocence. Strangely, some of my favorite scenes are the ones when she’s angrily kicking the inside of a safe, stomping around in her bottle, or crying because she’s happy or sad. Eden did it with such enthusiasm and gusto that I wanted, more than almost anything, to believe she could be real.
And to the random nay-sayers who liked to point out that she called Tony “Master”, I’d like to point out that it was, in fact, Jeannie who had the ‘power’ and ran the show. I will admit, though, that madness and mayhem were often, okay, usually the results of her schemes. But she invariably learned the pertinent lesson….and kept on trying.
I used to imagine all the things I could do if I had her power, the changes I could make-for myself, my mom, my sister and brother….but magic wasn’t real and things stayed the same. So, I was magic vicariously and I learned to harness the power of my imagination. I learned to imagine beyond the Hollywood scripts and settings. Characters, dramas, mysteries….whole worlds could exist at my whim and by my will.
No longer did I just imagine the worlds I found in books. Jeannie created such a longing inside of me to be a magical creature that my imagination exploded, and there, inside my own mind, I learned I could be anyone, anywhere, anywhen, and in any situation I desired. Now, books, movies, music, and TV combined to aid my imagination, unleashing a power strong enough to create worlds that became sanctuaries for me.
My copy of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Cassa Star!!!!!
One more reason to avoid!!!!
Sometimes, we think we know what we will do in any given situation. We think we are firm in our resolves….
I was reading Roland’s post where Gypsy was thrown by DayStar into hell and all the heroes came to stand and fight for her safety…..
….and this memory came to mind:
I was sixteen and in high school. My French teacher, upon learning how much I loved cats, gave me one of her kittens. I named her Dulcinea (from Don Quixote) and she was beautiful. She was part Persian-a tiny chocolate ball of fur with golden patches. I loved her fiercely….
Mom and I were sitting on the front porch and Dulcinea was playing beneath our feet under a hemlock tree. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, Grandpa’s huge hunting dog dove under the hemlock tree, swept my tiny baby up into his mouth, and raced off with her.
I knew firsthand what a dog could do to a cat. I threw my tea glass onto the porch, grabbed my brother’s metal baseball bat, and chased off after the hell-hound. He ran around the house, through the back yard, and into the half acre plowed garden. I was right behind him, screaming the whole way…
At the end of our property, at the end of the plowed field, he turned, Dulcinea hanging limply from his mouth, and I had my chance…..
What do you think I did? Swing the bat? Fall to my knees and cry? Lose myself in a mindless rage?
As I stood there, looking into the eyes of the animal that had so quickly brought death and pain to Dulcinea’s world and mine, time stopped and I had an epiphany. I hated that dog with a passion and a depth that words cannot convey. But as I looked into his eyes, the baseball bat poised to strike a blow against all the dogs that had ever taken my babies away from me, I wanted to cry. Not just for the beautiful dead innocent dangling from the mouth of the beast, but because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill or even hurt the animal that had brought death, like so many before him, once more to my fragile world. And I felt as if I were letting her down in the most horrible way possible.
After my epiphany, still in a rage, still holding the bat poised for striking, a war raging inside of me, the dog dropped the now dead Dulcinea and loped off to his home. Next door.
Grandpa sold the dog and never bought another hunting dog. He bought beagles. He tended Cookie for me, a stray that wandered in from who knows where that had mange. Ironically, Cookie, and Sam, his last beagle, became best friends. With each other and with Grandpa.
It was a long long time before Grandpa would look me in the eyes. And I was still never good enough. But no one ever allowed or caused a dog to go after one of my cats again. Ever.
What was the epiphany? The dog was just a dog. Certain breeds naturally go after creatures smaller than they are. Also, dogs bred to hunt often consider smaller animals to be prey. In nature, this is typical and natural. It’s why I’ve never liked nature shows that show hunting practices. I know it’s natural and normal, but I don’t have to like it.
I couldn’t strike at the dog because, in a way, it’s the natural order of things. And he didn’t understand the thing he’d done. He couldn’t stop and reason that he’d crossed a property line or that the creature he’d taken was my world. When I reached him, when I had the chance to strike, Dulcinea was already dead. Striking then would have, to me, been a senseless kind of revenge against a creature that didn’t know any better. And, in truth, I didn’t know how I would be able to live with the pain I would cause, or with his death if it came at my hands-he was just a dog….
I might hate certain realities that exist. I might have to accept that some things are beyond my control or my ability to change….and I know there are exceptions to all this.
But people….they’re different. They plan. They connive. They strategize. And they take….
After Dulcinea, I learned I could not strike out at an animal for following a natural instinct or being unable to reason. It caused me to wonder if I would ever be able to defend those I loved from harm….
The answer is yes. I can. But that’s another story….
(This is not a photo of Dulcinea, it’s from zedge.net.)
>A few people expressed interest in the comment I made on the awards post concerning the angel incident. It requires a little bit of a preface…but here it is. In reality, it’s two parts; I’m putting them together and you’ll see why.
I grew up in a mobile home. At the northern end was the kitchen/dining room. The living room was next to the room my sister and I shared. The bathroom separated our room from my mom’s bedroom. It was easy for me to learn which direction was what because mom taught me that the sun rose in the east, where the front of the trailer faced. The back was west, etc.
Our dirt driveway (actually, our land) was on a slight incline and separated our land from my uncle’s, a fenced in area where he would hold cows intended for sale, or, alternately, grow and harvest hay. Basically, a large, empty field-with two apple trees approximately fifteen or twenty yards apart.
The kitchen had two windows; one faced west (the back yard) and the other north (the empty pasture with a perfect view of the two trees). The sink was under the northern window….at the time of the first incident, I wasn’t tall enough to see out the window…I had to stand on tip-toe to put a cup into the sink….Ready?
Mat 18:10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
Cowboy cup in hand, I was walking to the sink to put it away. I could stand on my toes and push it over the edge and get it into the sink all by myself. But, something funny was happening. The sink disappeared. The wall and the window did, too. I could see the trees in Uncle’s pasture. I walked to the edge of the floor and I could see the whole pasture. I felt funny. From the east, a giant angel came. In the air, he stopped in the middle between the two trees. He was beautiful. In one hand, he held a trumpet. With the other, he reached toward me. I began walking to him, stepping off the edge of the floor, into the air, reaching out my own hand. Then, everything went black….
For years, I wondered it what I had seen was real. It was something I held deep inside of me, not sharing with anyone. Other strange things had happened, but none had seemed as real or intense.
The nineties were very dark years and I won’t go into all that here. In ’97, I injured my back and was literally bedridden for two weeks, unable to lift a dinner plate and barely able to shuffle along in baby steps. When I was finally able to sit without fear of passing out from the pain, I decided I wasn’t going to sit in the house. I had to get out.
I got into my (straight drive) car and took off. I didn’t care about the pain when I changed gears. I was free! I drove to Lenoir, looking for a bookstore. I didn’t care if people looked at my funny walk. Not finding anything, I took off for Hickory. (At this time, I had moved home to help my little brother and we lived in Hudson/Granite Falls-the middle of the two cities.) For some reason, I went to a Christian bookstore. Not expecting to find anything, I browsed the selections. I found a book about survivors of abuse. It sounded really informative so I held on to it. I found another book on the same topic but, as I looked through it, I thought it seemed simple. It didn’t have the same scholarly/informed feel as the first one….I ended up buying them both.
When I got home, I was exhausted. I took the books to my room and found the most comfortable reading position I could and dove in, expectations high. The first selection, the scholarly one? Sucked. I literally tossed it onto the floor. I picked up the second, more simple one, and was riveted. I read the whole thing, and I came undone.
Living with a twenty year old guy was like living in a frat house. The boys that usually hung out with my brother thought of me as their part time mom/sister/confidant. It was usually great having all that company and laughter around. But that day, I needed privacy, something not usually found in a frat house. They thought nothing of coming into my room, sitting or lying on my bed, and telling me all about their problems, dreams, pain, joy… So, I announced I was taking a shower. (Bathrooms-the last refuge of women everywhere.) I went into the bathroom, turned on the shower, and sat in the floor, crying.
I was angry and hurt and confused. If what I’d read was true….? So I prayed. Lord, I know I’m not lying in the streets of Calcutta, naked and starving. I’m not dying of AIDS in Africa, starving and orphaned. I had food and shelter. I wasn’t locked in closets and beaten with hammers and made to eat rotten food or drink bleach…but for me, just for me, if what Your Word says is true, where was my angel when all the bad stuff was happening? It says that they always have Your face. Where was my angel?
Immediately, I saw the impression, indentation of a large, invisible hand pressed against a straining angel. My angel, the one I’d seen as a child. He, the angel, had come to collect me, to take me to Heaven. And I heard a voice. The same voice I’d heard before, “No, wait. Leaver her alone. She’ll be okay.”
And that was it. And it was everything. My angel had been watching and he had come for me. He had been told to leave me because I would be okay. It had been real after all.
I’ve looked at death three times as an adult. Now, I knew, I had looked at death as a child…and I was comforted. My angel had seen and was taking me away from all the pain. No one had cared so much before…
As time went by, I began to question the ‘okay.’ Okay? That wasn’t so great, was it? It meant ‘so-so’; not bad, but not great, either. I looked it up in a dictionary. The origins of the word? Two little words that mean ‘all correct.’ I’ll leave that for you to consider…
Cowboy cup in hand, I was walking to the sink to put it away. I could stand on my toes and push it over the edge and get it into the sink all by myself. But, something funny was happening. The sink disappeared. The wall and the window did, too. I could see the trees in Uncle’s pasture. I walked to the edge of the floor and I could see the whole pasture. I felt funny. From the east, a giant angel came. In the air, he stopped in the middle between the two trees. He was beautiful. In one hand, he held a trumpet. With the other, he reached toward me. I began walking to him, stepping off the edge of the floor, into the air, reaching out my own hand.
The angel in charge of the little girl had come to end her pain and prevent much more. He was in the process of guiding her spirit to Heaven when the Master stopped him, physically restraining him by placing His hand on his chest. The angel looked at the Master, who said, “No, wait. Leave her alone. She’ll be okay.” Obediently, the angel guided the young spirit back into her physical body, now lying lifeless on the floor. Hopefully, she wouldn’t remember….
Then, everything went black….
photo from ebay-this is exactly the kind and color of cup I had when I was a child and when this happened…
Summer is officially here, and it’s been hot enough to prove it. I’ve been somewhat under the weather, my allergies working in league with the awful ozone quality to wreak havoc on my respiratory system. Ah, well…such is life in the South…
I’ve been reading posts about yummy summer foods and thought it was time to share a childhood summer tradition…
Grandma babysat most of us grandkids during the summer (and four of us during the school year). The basic outline of our daily schedule was this: drop off, play till breakfast (I usually picked cereal), outside until lunch, nap (even when we
were about ten years old, we took naps-we’d been playing since sun up and we were tired!), snack, and play till mom picked us up. The main point of this post is, of course, the snack.
Grandma and Grandpa had an old timey rectangular cement picnic table situated under a black walnut tree just a few yards from the kitchen window. Every single day, with the only exceptions being days we made ice cream, we ate watermelon. There was a half acre garden behind our house and we (Mom, sister and me, Grandpa, and one of our uncles) grew just about anything you could think of in that garden, including lots of watermelon.
After writing the Daffy post, I thought about my mom’s traditional sick policy she had with us when we were children and I wanted to include it. However, it didn’t seem right to put it with Daffy, so…here it is…
Anytime we got sick, the first thing Mom would do, after getting us in bed (no easy task), would be to feed us a bowl of chicken noodle soup. To this day, when I feel bad, I want a bowl of this stuff..MmmMmmGood!
If we ate all of our soup (and kept it down if we had upset tummies…) we got our all time, absolute favorite: banana popsicles!!!! Yummm!!!!! They’re still a favorite and I’m flooded with warm memories whenever I eat them…
Later, Mom would break out the cherished box of Crayolas. Don’t you just love the smell of a new box of crayons? And, it was really cool if you got the big box with the sharpener in the back! Coloring is still a very relaxing activity for many adults I know….in fact, Co-Teacher got me a coloring book for Christmas! Love it!!!!
My mom would color with us, when we were sick especially, but often, just for no reason at all. I think it relaxed her, too. She was very artistic and crafty and I have to wonder, had the opportunity been there, what she could have done with her talents…
At any holiday, it was a tradition for my sister and me to get sick. Really, it’s comical the timing we used to have. Christmas was especially great because our stockings would always have a giant coloring book. We would fill up every single page during the following months….
What kind of sick policy traditions did you have when you were a child, or with your children?