Happy (Step)Father’s Day!

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The original step-dad

When I was picking out my Father’s Day cards, I found all sorts of possible combinations:  from daughter to father, from father to grandfather, from son-in-law to father-in-law, even one from the dog (I’m not kidding about that).  I did not, however, see any that were geared specifically to a stepdad.  It can be a little tricky, picking out the right card for a stepfather.  It makes me wonder if the card industry has decided that stepfathers aren’t really family, or maybe they’re just hoping someone will make up a separate Stepfather’s Day so they can cash in even more.  In case there’s any question, though, I’d like to lay out the case for why my stepdad is definitely family and should absolutely get a Father’s Day card.  I think that, if you read all of my reasons, you’ll end up agreeing—and if any of you work for card companies, maybe you’ll come up with a few card options for next year.

My Reasons For Why My Stepdad Is Family:

 1.  He went to my school concerts and plays

I took this for granted when I was growing up.  If I had a concert, everybody went.  That’s just how it was.  Now that I’m old enough to have to be fortunate enough to sit through go to children’s concerts myself, I understand just how much that meant, because those concerts are terrible  horrible GODAWFUL.  When I was a child, I thought my choir or band or whatever was usually pretty good, and comparatively speaking, we probably were.  But that’s like saying that sour milk smells comparatively better than rotten eggs.  It may be true, but that’s still really, really bad, and he sat through it over and over and over, knowing how dreadful it was going to be, because he wanted to support me.  That’s family.

2.  He helped me move

Not just once.  Not just when there were elevators.  Twice a summer every summer while I was in college, and about a half-dozen times since then, almost always when it was either sweltering or freezing cold with icy rain just to keep things fun.  It’s not just help moving furniture, either, it’s cleaning up the apartment (including bathrooms) and fixing leaks and figuring out why that light fixture isn’t working and I don’t even know what else, because he does it all while I’m off doing something easy, and he does it without being asked, which is good because I’d never have the nerve to ask him to do half the things he does.  That’s family.

3.  He puts up with my pets

I once had a seven-week gap between apartment leases, and I had to ask my mom and stepdad to take the cats in while I rented a room for those seven weeks.  I don’t know that I would ever describe my stepdad as a cat person.  I think he’s the kind of guy that, if he had to have pets, he would pick a dog, but he’d just as soon not have anything else to have to clean up after.  He took the cats in without a murmur, though, and let them have their catty way with his house.  I even heard stories of him letting “that brown cat” (my siamese) curl up on his head at night, but I’m not sure I can believe that one without pictures (oh please, Mom, tell me there are pictures!).  Subjecting his wall-to-wall carpeting to creatures whose favorite pastime is horking up most of the food they just ate was really testing the limits, but he did it because I needed him to and never once complained.  That’s family.

4.  I can’t stand the thought of disappointing him

I love my dad.  A lot of the things I do, I do because I want him to be proud of me.  A lot of the things that keep me up at night are things that would disappoint him.  Most of the time, these things motivate me to make good choices (saving for retirement! yay!).  Sometimes, not so much (don’t follow that dream! it’s not sensible!).  But that’s on me because those are my choices.  At the heart of every one of those things that my dad wants for me, and that I want to do to make him proud, is his wish for me to be happy.  That’s how you know that someone is family.  Underneath all of the fighting and nagging and drama and stress, you all truly want each other to be happy.  So I make good choices because I don’t want to disappoint my father, who wants me to be happy, or my stepfather, who wants the same thing.  I want to make them both proud because they’re both family.

I defy you to hear those reasons and then tell me that my stepdad doesn’t need a Father’s Day card.  As an adopted child with stepparents, I can tell you categorically that blood is neither the beginning nor the end of family.  Hallmark and the other greeting card companies just need to get with it.  Although, I did find a pretty good card for my stepdad this year.  On the front, it asked “Where would I be without you?”, and on the inside it said “Yes, but which prison?”  Really, I think that sums it all up, don’t you?

[All images are in the public domain via pixabay.com]

 

The Velveteen Bumblebee

This is a picture of Bombee.

This is Bombee. He’s like baby shampoo, he doesn’t sting.

In my very tasteful study, with my very tasteful furniture and my very tasteful collection of objets d’art, I have a very old, very dilapidated stuffed bee.  Its name is Bombee, so named by my sister when she was too young to be able to pronounce “bumblebee” correctly.  Bombee actually lucked out, name-wise; my sister’s other stuffed animals were called things like Horse, Bear, and (the pinnacle of her creative expression) Whitey, a stuffed white whale.  Just call her Ishmael.

At some point, Bombee got passed down to me.  I vaguely remember my sister getting upset about this, but whenever I start to feel bad about it, I remember having to wear all her hand-me-down bellbottoms.  In the Eighties.  So I don’t feel too guilty that I ended up with Bombee.  Later on, I also swiped a John Lennon t-shirt of hers, and I don’t feel bad about that, either.  The bellbottoms were polyester, and one pair was bright red.

Bombee is a bit of a puzzle to me.  Specifically, I’m puzzled about why, out of all my childhood toys and family mementos, the one I choose to display is a stuffed bee that looks like it has mange.  What kind of a kid cuddles a stuffed bumblebee, anyway?  At that age, the extent of my knowledge of bees was that it hurts when they sting, and sometimes their stings make people puff up and have to go to the hospital.  I guess I’ve made worse choices when it comes to naptime companions, but it’s still pretty weird.

I wouldn’t even say that Bombee was my favorite toy as a child.  I’ve had plenty of other toys I loved and played with more— for a while, at least; a lot of those other toys ended up breaking pretty quickly.  I thought for years that it was my fault until I realized that the toys that broke were almost always the ones my parent found most annoying.  Still, even my quiet toys all eventually got thrown out, passed along, or packed away, and now there’s just the mangy second-hand bumblebee and I don’t really know why.

If I had to guess, I might start with how it reminds me of my sister.  After all, Bombee was hers before it was mine.  She named it, played with it, and loved it, and I worshipped my sister.  I still do, really, but these memories come from the very beginning of my life, and my sister was like a god to me then.  Everything she did was perfect because she did it, and everything she loved was good because she loved it.  Sure, I could just hang up a family photograph.  But when was the last time you took a picture off the wall and cradled it because it held the blessing of your sister’s love?

And if that’s how I’d start, then I think I’d end with how Bombee is the first toy I can remember.  I  used to tuck it into the crook of my arm while I sucked my thumb.  I think I even still wore onesies.  Bombee has been in my story from the beginning, when I was too young to be able to pronounce “bumblebee” and much too young to be self-conscious about the shabbiness of my stuffed companion.  Bombee lived with me in the kingdom where nobody dies.  I guess I’m not ready to let go of that just yet.

 

My Granddad And The Summer Of The Flying Bears

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The Favorite (Georgios Jakobides); image in the public domain

When I was little, I spent most of my summers at my granddad’s house, and my favorite part of spending time with my granddad was listening to his stories.  He would never say a word until I’d finished my chores, and I used to hurry so fast through all the scrubbing and dishwashing that my grandma said I should come with my own caution sign because the floor around me was always wet.  But I just wanted to hear the stories.

He didn’t tell his stories to just anybody, either.  People would come by the house and ask about this story or that one, and mostly my granddad would answer them, but sometimes he didn’t.  When I asked him about it, he said he didn’t mind telling a story just to pass the time, but talking to a person who’d already made up his mind not to believe you was just plain dumb.  I was still young enough that I didn’t understand what he meant, but looking back, I guess he wasn’t wrong.

The summers I stayed with my grandparents, if I wasn’t begging my granddad for a story, I was begging him to let me play with the flying bears.  I’ve never heard of any other place in the world where the bears could fly, but where my granddad lived, you almost couldn’t get them to stop.  It got to be a problem after they built an airport near the town; pilots would look up to see a bear in the sky ahead of them banking left, and they’d be so busy staring at the bear that they’d steer off course and end up halfway to the next state before they thought to look at the controls again.  Of course, these days all the controls are automatic, so that isn’t a problem anymore.

The flying bears loved hearing my granddad’s stories as much as I did, and it was a rare night when we didn’t see at least one bear touch down in the garden.  It just about drove my poor grandma crazy because they’d always land in the vegetable patch and trample the vegetables, and she couldn’t get anything to grow there until my granddad built a little landing strip for the bears in the field out back.  Even then she’d still mutter about paw marks on her linoleum, but I saw her putting out a bowl of acorns and pine nuts once or twice when she thought no one was looking.

I used to play with the cubs while the grownup bears visited with my granddad.  I don’t know how many times I got told to stay on the ground, but you can’t expect a child not to ride on the back of a flying bear cub and do barrel rolls just above the treetops when the chance is right in front of her.  We used to fly way up near the stars, and I would tell the cubs all the stories my granddad told me about the constellations and what they meant.  The cubs tried to teach me how to sing bear-song a few times, but I don’t think I ever got it quite right.

I asked my granddad once how the bears learned to fly, because the cubs said it just sort of happened, like walking or swimming.  My granddad told me that, back when he was young, the bears couldn’t fly at all.  One day, though, a bear cub climbed almost to the top of a tree when the branch he was standing on started to creak, and he realized the branches that high up were too small to hold him.  The cub got scared and couldn’t climb down, and his mama couldn’t climb up after him because she was too heavy and the branches would break.  None of the bears knew what to do.

The branch kept creaking and the bear cub kept crying until his poor mama was half out of her mind.   Finally she couldn’t take any more, and she reared up on her hind legs and jumped as high as she could toward her cub.  Instead of falling back to the ground like all the other bears thought she would, though, she just kept going higher and higher.  She flew all the way up the tree until she was high enough to grab her cub just as the branch he was standing on snapped through, and if her landing was a little clumsy, well, no one thought any the worse of her for it.

My granddad got that story from the mama bear herself, though she never shared it with another human being.  She told my granddad that she wasn’t scared at all on the way up, but the whole time she was flying back down, she was convinced the wind was blowing off all her fur and she was going to crash to the ground as bald as a baby field mouse.  She didn’t, of course, and by the time a week had passed nearly all the bears could fly, except for the very old and the very, very young.

(When I asked the mama bear why she told that story to my granddad and nobody else, she said it was because, after she got her cub down from the tree, she took the cub to my granddad to have him fix up some scrapes and cuts, and somehow she found herself telling him everything.  I used to go to my granddad with my scrapes and cuts, too, so I understood.)

I got a little older and started going to a different school during the rest of the year.  It was a very good school, where they made us wear uniforms and tested us on things we hadn’t learned yet, but the teachers there weren’t very nice.  At my old school, my teacher told me he always looked forward to reading my essays about what I’d done over the summer, so the bears and I made sure to do things my teacher would enjoy reading about when classes started up again.  I used to save the essays and read them to my granddad when he stayed with us during the holidays, and he liked them, too, and said he guessed my teacher must be pretty smart.

At this new place, when I wrote my summer essay, my new teacher made me stay after class and lectured me about how stories have no place in works of serious nonfiction.  I tried to explain about the mama bear and her cub, but my teacher said everybody knew bears couldn’t fly, and then she told me it was time I grew up and made me write a new essay where I copied out the encyclopedia entry on bears.  When I got to the end and found out that my teacher was right and bears couldn’t fly, I felt just like that cub did when he climbed too high in the tree, except the mama bear couldn’t rescue me because everybody knows bears can’t fly.

My parents didn’t understand why I was so unhappy that fall at my new school, and I never told them.  I didn’t want them to know how childish I’d been.  The next time my granddad came for the holidays, he asked to hear my essay and I gave him the copied-out encyclopedia entry.  He read it all the way through, frowned at the paper, and then frowned at me until I told him the whole story.  When I finished, he frowned at the paper again and threw it into the fire.  I asked him if it was true that everyone knows bears can’t fly.  He said, “Of course everyone knows bears can’t fly.  But the bears don’t know it, and don’t you go telling them.”  And I felt better.

My granddad passed away not long after that, and it wasn’t more than a few days after his funeral that the bears flew for what turned out to be the last time.  Before then, I’d never seen more than two or three in the air together, but that day so many bears took to the sky at once that they blocked the sun and turned the town almost as dark as midnight, though the clocks said it was 12 noon.  In every home and office and store, people stopped what they were doing and went outside to watch the flying bears.  We all knew they were telling us goodbye.

I was staying with my grandma when it happened.  I saw the bears as they skimmed over buildings, circled once above the graveyard, and then flew in a long, slow procession over my grandparent’s house.  I saw all the young cubs I’d played with, now almost grown and looking far too dignified ever to have done barrel rolls.  The bears flew down to skim low over the landing strip behind the house, but never landed, instead climbing higher and higher until it became impossible to tell one bear from another.  Then they turned toward the west and flew out of sight, and none of them ever came back.

I haven’t seen another flying bear since that day.  I haven’t even been to the town in years.  We sold the house after my grandma died and I never had a reason to go back after that.  To own the truth, I don’t much want to go back.  I don’t want to see how things have changed since the summers I spent there as a child, and I don’t want to know what the town looks like without my granddad somewhere in it, telling his stories.  If I go back now, I’m not sure I could still believe that bears ever flew there at all.  Some days I know they never did.

But the bears don’t know it, and I’m not about to tell them.

Miracles, Audrey Hepburn Movies, And Other True Stories About My Mom

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image in public domain via pixabay.com; text added

Mother’s Day snuck up on me, which seems appropriate because my mother often does the same thing.  I wanted to write a Mother’s Day post this year, partly because I’m running out of blog topics I have a fantastic mother who’s always worth writing about and partly because I’ve had particular reason to appreciate her over the last year.  I wasn’t sure quite how to approach it, though.  My Sainted Mother has made a number of appearances on this blog already, and most of the stories she wouldn’t mind me telling the entire internet have already been told.

Fortunately, I found inspiration in the news. I try to stay educated on current events because, appropriately enough, my mother raised me to believe that it’s my duty to stay informed as a voter and as a member of society.  I also like to check to see if we’ve gone to war with anyone new since yesterday, and I wish I meant that as a joke.  So I took a look at the news and oh, the news, the news did not disappoint.

At first I thought it did, and not because of headlines about serial killers, though there were headlines about serial killers.  The news I’m talking about was equally shocking, but it was also, somehow, horrendously mundane.  I read articles about political sniping and voters trying to decide which candidate for leader of the free world is the least worst; interviews in which global atrocities were politicized and romanticized, and in the process trivialized; and editorials in respected publications demanding that the moral beliefs of private citizens be enforced as law.  How can any rational being not be disappointed in news like this?

Inadvertently, however, all that muck made it obvious to me how I should approach this Mother’s Day post.  My mother is everything that’s missing from the news today.  She’s intelligent, free-thinking, non-judgmental, and familiar with the rules of grammar.  (She’s also, and this is really neither here nor there when it comes to the news, very good-looking.  When she went abroad as a young woman, snobby Parisian men lost their snobby Parisian heads over her in spite of her being an American.  True story).  What stands out to me most clearly right now, though, and what has lasted rather longer than the dew on her skin and the gloss in her hair, is how classy she is.  Life with my mother is like an Audrey Hepburn movie:  it’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s clearly better for having her in it.  It’s also simply not the same with anyone else.

All my life, whenever I’ve gone somewhere with my mother, I’ve seen the people around her just bloom, and I’ve tried for years to pin down why.  Other people can be nice, polite, thoughtful, helpful, all those same attributes my mother has, and they don’t have the same effect.  You can do the exact things she does and say the exact words she says with all the same tones and inflections, but you won’t get the same results–trust me, I’ve tried; it’s like the beginning of Peter Pan without the fairy dust.  But when you’re with my mother, something about her makes the world start acting like a dusty summer garden when it finally rains; all the beautiful things can lift up their heads and flourish, and they do.

In hotels, when she travels, she knows the names of the concierge, the manager, the assistant managers, the coffee shop baristas, the housekeepers, the gardeners, and the maintenance staff.  She doesn’t learn their names to curry favor, she does it because she wants to know their names.  She knows which waiter in the hotel restaurant has a child applying to colleges and whose grandmother is recovering from surgery, and she also knows which colleges and what kind of surgery.  When someone is in distress, she asks if she can do anything and hopes the answer is yes.  She’ll read this, I know, and she’ll think I’m painting a picture of a rosebush and leaving out the thorns.  I’m not.  Even my mother can’t deny that I’m not the kind of person who leaves out the thorns.  I’m just the kind of person who recognizes what she’s got, and I’ve got an exceptionally classy mother.

This blog post was almost very different, though, because the twist in this particular tale is that I’m adopted.  I suspect that, no matter what the circumstances are, most adopted children never really stop being afraid that they’ll be rejected, and that’s still my biggest fear.  Rationally speaking, I know that my adoption is probably not going to be undone after thirty-five years, but tell that to a kid who grew up knowing she’d been returned to sender once already.  My mother (and father and sister) gave me a home and a family and I will never stop being grateful for that, but a home and a family couldn’t soothe my fear because they’re the very things I’ve been so afraid I’ll lose.  It would take a miracle to banish that fear.  So my mother performed a miracle.  She raised me with a love so strong and so good that it overcame every fear and doubt, and made me believe.  She made me hers.

My mother gave a motherless child the impossible gift:  total and unshakeable faith in her love for me.  I will always be her daughter and she will always be my mother.  She told me so, and she lives her life with such honor and grace that I could never doubt her.  She made room for me in her home and her heart, and she’s my mother not by blood or even by court order, but by a lifetime of love.  She’s a class act if ever there was one, and no matter what else is going on in my life or what horrible things are in the news, all I have to do to find the good in this world is think of her.  I know that my sister, her biological daughter, feels the same.  I’ll never be able to repay my mother for what she’s done for me and been to me.  All I can do is say thank you.

Thank you, Mom.  I love you so much.  Happy Mother’s Day.

Why My Dad Is The World’s Best Dad: With Examples

Father's Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

Father’s Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

I’ve seen a lot of merchandise out there in anticipation of Father’s Day, or more accurately in anticipation of cashing in on Father’s Day.  I’ve seen any number of mugs and T-shirts saying “World’s Best Dad” and foam fingers proclaiming the wearer to be “#1 Dad”.  What I haven’t seen is any evidence to back up these claims.  I mean, anyone can wear a t-shirt and drink from a mug.  Most people can even bring themselves to wear foam fingers from time to time.  But I have yet to see a treatise laying out the reasons that one’s particular father is the best in the world.  And I think I know why.

Because my Dad is the best in the world.

In keeping with my opening paragraph, I’m going to lay out the reasons why.  I fully realize that many of you may disagree and say that your father is the best in the world, and I’m ready to admit that there may be a tie for this position, but I’m going to need to hear the reasons before I concede the stalemate.  Here are mine:

  1. The Sledgehammer:  One of my earliest memories is of my father handing my sister and me a sledgehammer and telling us to knock down a wall.  He was remodeling the house from roof to basement, and the house was mostly plaster for a year or two.  If you didn’t put a cloth over your belongings, you came back to find them coated in white dust.  We’ll find out eventually, I’m sure, that breathing in plaster causes some horrific medical condition, but it was totally worth it to be a five-year-old wielding an adult-approved sledgehammer.  Even if I couldn’t lift it yet.
  2. Democrats are Evil:  My father and I were arguing about politics one evening.  I know, I know, not a good call, but there was an election approaching and I hadn’t yet come up with Life Rule #37:  Never Argue Politics With Dad.  I made some clever, witty observation (I’m assuming; I don’t actually remember), and my father, a staunch Republican, made the comment “All Democrats are evil.”  I said, a bit miffed, “I’m a Democrat!  Does that mean I’m evil?”  To which he replied, “You’re not evil; you’re just misguided.”  Best comeback line ever.
  3. BBQ SNAFU:  I was out with a few fellow graduate students on a summer afternoon.  We went to a local park where there were grills available for public use.  We brought hamburger patties, rolls, fixins, charcoal, etc.  We totally had it covered.  Except that, when we got there, we discovered that no one among the dozen or so of us there actually knew how to use the grill.  I hadn’t worried about it because I assumed that all guys know how to do this, which I realize is a total feminist fail.  Everyone just sort of milled around, debating possible approaches but never actually doing anything useful, which now that I think about it is a pretty good analogy for grad school in general.  I, however, being the daughter of an engineer and a science teacher, knew exactly what to do:  I called my father.  He gave us step-by-step instructions to get the bricks placed correctly and the fire going, and they worked perfectly.  That, however, is not what makes him so awesome.  The part of this story that makes him so awesome is that he picked up the phone right away, was totally ready to drop what he was doing to help his daughter, and knew exactly what to do even with no warning.  World’s best Dad!
  4. Night School:  When I was a little blind baby, my mother went back to school.  She went to night school because my Dad worked during the day and, strangely, the school wouldn’t admit a squalling infant.  That meant that childcare fell largely to my father in the evenings.  You know those commercials where moms fantasize about fathers who happily share child care duties and don’t think it’s somehow emasculating?  My dad is that dad.  We hung out, him and me, chillin’ at home while the Moms was in class.  He had it under control:  diapers?  Check.  Formula?  Check.  Baby who won’t stop crying until you pick her up and rock her?  Check.  Forming unbreakable bond with tiny baby girl?  Massive check.  Right now you’re thinking, that is the pinnacle of awesomeness.  She can’t possibly top that.  And yet, I can:
  5. When a Fail Really Isn’t:  For those of you who don’t know, I’m adopted.  I was having a conversation with my father recently about health issues.  He told me I ought to get such and such checked out because it was a serious issue on my mother’s side of the family.  I looked at him a little funny and asked which mother he was talking about, biological or adoptive.  He looked completely blank, then sheepish:  he forgot I was adopted.  He completely forgot that I’m not his biological daughter because he really, honestly loves me and thinks of me just as if I shared his DNA.  I was going to dare you all to top that, but I know you can’t.  My dad really is the World’s Best Dad.

And so is yours.  Everyone’s got a list.  I encourage everyone else to let their fathers know what’s on their list, because many dads don’t realize how incredible they are.  Happy Father’s Day!

The Smallest Christmas Tree

Many of you may not know that I’m adopted.  More than three decades ago, just before Christmas, my mother brought me into her home–my home–for the first time.  Though she couldn’t possibly have known what she was getting into, she and my father and sister welcomed me with love and always made me feel as much a part of the family as though I had been born into it.  This story is for my mother, who helped me decorate my very first Christmas tree since I left home, and who was worried that it was too small.

THE SMALLEST CHRISTMAS TREE

The Christmas tree was very small.  It was the smallest Christmas tree in the forest.  “Hmm,” said its father.  “Oh, dear,” sighed its mother.  Its brothers and sisters looked down at it and giggled.

Tiny tree

Tiny tree (Photo credit: get down)

At Christmas tree school, the other trees in the class won prizes:  “Best in Ornaments,” “First in Candy Canes,” “Biggest Star.”  But the smallest Christmas tree didn’t win any prizes.

The teacher looked at the smallest Christmas tree and shook its head.  “People want big trees, trees they can hang a hundred ornaments on.  There may not be a place for you.”

The smallest Christmas tree drooped its branches all the way home.  That night, it dreamed of a warm, welcoming house filled with firelight and purring cats.  It dreamed of hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and falling snow.  It dreamed of being covered in a hundred ornaments and crowned with a big, bright star.

Every day, the smallest Christmas tree looked for a home that wanted a tree.  Every day, it heard the same thing:  homes these days want bigger trees.  You can’t hold all the ornaments.  You can’t cover all the presents.  You can’t hold up the star.

English: Tree in Freezing Fog Tree on side of ...

English: Tree in Freezing Fog Tree on side of footpath. Footpath between Oak Road and Hampers Lane. Very cold and frosty day pre-Christmas. Brrr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas got closer and closer.  The wind became sharper and colder.  It rushed through the branches of the smallest Christmas tree.  The tree shivered and pulled its boughs tight against its trunk.  For the first time, it began to wonder if it would ever find a Christmas home.

Then, it saw a tiny sign in the corner of a store window: “Christmas tree wanted.  Fireplace with cats.  No tree too small.”  The ad looked old.  It looked like it had been in the window for a long time.  But it was Christmas Eve, and the smallest Christmas tree decided to try.

The house didn’t look like much from the outside.  It was the smallest house on the street.  It was all the way at the end of the street, so the smallest Christmas tree had to walk past window after decorated window, each showing a tall and brightly-lit Christmas tree.  The smallest tree stopped just outside the front door of the smallest house, tired and cold and almost ready to give up.

basil fireplace

basil fireplace (Photo credit: cyrusbulsara)

Then the door opened.  Warm light fell on the smallest Christmas tree.  The tree looked into the beautiful, smiling face of a small young woman.  Cats purred at her feet and firelight flickered in the background.  Behind the woman was a space near the fire just big enough for a very small Christmas tree.

The woman welcomed the smallest Christmas tree into her home.  Christmas carols played softly around the tree as it settled gratefully beside the fireplace.  The wind outside blew fierce and cold against the windows, but the smallest Christmas tree was warm inside the smallest house.  The space beside the fire was just the right size.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The woman brought out all the ornaments she had been saving until she finally found a tree.  There were over a hundred ornaments.  Each one had been given to the woman by someone she loved.  Each one had a story with it.  The woman told each story to the smallest Christmas tree as she decorated it.

The woman decorated the smallest Christmas tree for hours.  She sang carols as she wound garlands through the tree’s branches.  She smiled as she hung it with candy canes.  She covered the bottom of the Christmas tree with a shimmering blanket, and she hung ornaments on every branch, all the way up to the top.  The smallest Christmas tree held very still as the pile of ornaments grew smaller, wondering how all of the ornaments could possibly fit.

But they did fit–every one.

English: American Christmas Tree

English: American Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last of all, gently and carefully, the woman placed a glittering star on top of the very highest branch.  Covered in ornaments and surrounded by firelight and music, the smallest Christmas tree had found its home.

The next morning, the smallest Christmas tree looked out of the windows of the smallest house.  Nearby, the woman cradled a cup of hot chocolate beside the fire.  Beneath the tree’s branches, cats purred and prowled on the shimmering blanket.  Snow was falling soft and white outside the windows.  In its new home, the smallest Christmas tree heard the glad ringing of bells and knew that it was Christmas day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  May every wandering soul find a home like mine.

Thanksgiving Stew

Here is the Little Blind Girl’s recipe for Thanksgiving Stew:

Ingredients:

  • Eighteen relatives from four generations
  • A kitchen that can only hold three people
  • A turkey that’s been cooking since before dawn
  • Seven different desserts
  • Small children in dress clothes who’ve had too much sugar and not enough sleep
  • Half a dozen cars trying to share a driveway
  • Ten family stories that have been aged for at least five years
  • Assorted pets, dietary restrictions, conflicting commitments, & long-running grudges

English: Photo showing some of the aspects of ...

Directions:  Put the turkey in a home that hasn’t been this clean since last Thanksgiving.  Add the four generations of relatives gradually.  Sprinkle in the small children, the desserts, and the overcrowded driveway.  Let simmer, then add the kitchen that can only hold three people (beware of elbows) and the family stories (use liberally and without discretion).  Garnish with assorted pets, dietary restrictions, and conflicting commitments.  Add the long-running grudges to the after-dinner drinks.  Serve warm and eat until you fall asleep in your chair while watching football.  Serves:  a small nation.  Leftovers should last for approximately two weeks, depending on the strength of the grudges.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I’m grateful for each and every one of you.  Thank you for reading my blog, and being kind enough to let me know when you like it.