Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Man Cave: My Most Memorable Christmas

It is ironic that the calm, settled phases of life are the ones that we enjoy the most, but the difficult times are the most memorable. I had many childhood Christmases filled with fun presents and happy times, but the one that remains most vivid in my memory was turbulent and meager. My kids are tired of hearing the story, so now I'm going to tell it to you.

Have a seat.

When I was in the fifth grade my family lived in Boise, Idaho. In the fall of that year my dad lost his job, and my family, which was already poor, faced some pretty bleak circumstances. In hopes of finding work my Dad went to Seattle, leaving the rest of us alone in Boise for several months.

During that time we eked out a living as best we could. We lived like paupers. I remember our favorite treat became peanut butter, honey, and flour rolled up and cut into pieces. I also remember my Grandma and Grandpa Paul showing up from time to time with grocery bags under their arms. There were other nights when we would answer a knock on the door to find boxes of food left by anonymous friends. Yes, this is a classic "times were tough" tale.

Sit back down....I ain't done.

At length my Dad found a job at Boeing, and we were obliged to move the family to Seattle. Despite our best efforts, logistics demanded that the move be made on Christmas Eve. We had no choice. We loaded up the moving truck and off we went; Dad in the truck, Mom and the kids following along in our late '60's Bel Air station wagon (three-speed, on the column).

It took about 10 hours to make the trip. I remember Mom keeping it interesting for us kids by telling stories, and wondering aloud if every light we happened to see in the sky might be Santa. We came over Snoqualmie Pass in the rain and snow, finally arriving in Skyway - near penniless, no Christmas tree, no presents, but happy and relieved at the prospect of a new start. That night I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor.

Our presents the next day consisted mostly of things my parents were able to buy from 7-11 or A&H Drugs down the street. I got an orange, some candy, and an ink pen and some drawing paper. I don't have any of those things anymore, but I do still have the drawing I made with the pen and paper on that Christmas Day. It is an eagle, along with some feeble attempts at calligraphy. It is old and yellowed now; permanently curled from spending most of the last 35 years in a tube. It is not a masterwork of art, but it has become to me a brightly burning reminder of a Christmas past.

You may go now.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that is very touching. Your mom is a rock. She told you stories and kept things interesting on the drive. I know, as the parent, I probably would've been crying.