So here's the memory or at least as much of it as I can coax through the decades of doing my best not to remember, hoping I could pass myself off as a self-invention who just showed up in college, well, I certainly can't say fully formed, but at least not anything to do with a child. Let alone one lying on the floor of the living room, usually verboten (life was lived in the family room, on the bottom floor, and the living room, the middle of the split-level, was for entertaining), and staring up at the Christmas tree, which all through my childhood was a fake one, for fear of fires, for needle-less neatness. The rest of the room's lights off so the tree's lights seem magical, even through the transition one year from the now what we think of classic bulb size to the smaller pinpoints, the ones easier to make star-up if you squinted at them right, caught them through the phony boughs at the proper angle. Of course there was the manger in front of me, too, so if you got a light in the right spot, insta-star of Bethlehem over the baby Jesu, poor thing in his crib with a corner chipped, the set so old, yet all his attendants still marveled, the gift-bearing kings, the shepherds, one even with a sheep on his shoulders, the donkey I wanted to call an ass just to get to say something dirty with impunity, and the cow, the one with little horns made of spring that were irresistible and had to be spronged.
It seemed I might lie there for hours, but at this point the memory is like a dream from which you awake right before denouement, so you're ever left shy of what you might have ever wanted, or maybe just the plunge into another dream. What did that young boy think? Perhaps it was simple as wishes, desire for the rod controlled hockey game or some new magic trick, that would be forgotten by the next Christmas. Perhaps it was as complex as pondering the Holy Family as my own became un-whole, knowing I could do nothing. Perhaps I myself was a gift under the tree waiting for a time, at last, to be present.
Labels: misty memoir-y memories