On Christmas Day
we celebrated at our house
I picked up my in-laws at their house
and drove them to our house.
They are old and wobbly
and there are lots of stairs
so it took a while to get them into my car
also my mother-in-law had a flame
the Light of Peace
that had come all the way from Jerusalem
that she wanted to share with us
and we had to be careful with that
so as not to light anything on fire
and especially not let it go out.
it was in the form of a candle, protected in a little
wood and glass lantern type thing.
she put that into a pot and carried the pot
for extra protection of all involved.
the light, as i understand it, someone goes to jerusalem
and sets something on fire from the Light of Peace there
and hurries back with it before it goes out
then they light more things on fire
and take them to churches
where people come and light other things, usually candles
and take them home
where the Light of Peace
shines on Christmas.
their neighbor had gone to church to get a flame
and come over and lit their candle for them
doubling the Light of Peace.
all the way to my house it smelled like something was burning
in my car but it was only the Light of Peace.
at my house everyone stood around
while I took out our candle
or rather put their candle-lantern thing into a larger lantern
a big glass affair
and took our candle and a long wooden match
with which to transfer the Light of Peace to our new candle
while leaving their candle burning
thus doubling yet again the Light of Peace
but instead, with the large match, I pressed the first candle’s wick
into the melted wax
extinguishing the Light of Peace
undeniably, before five witnesses
fuck, I said.
it’s like that Jack London story with the trapper starting a fire in winter,
but none of them were Jack London fans.
Category Archives: Familie
On Christmas Day
Beta: (Returns from exotic mission to exotic country XYZ)
Beta: Boy, am I tired.
Beta: (Reads blog post)
Beta: Dad, if kidnappers kidnap you they want ransom. So your family would already know.
Beta: Especially if they cut off your fingertip. It would be used to emphasize their ransom demand. So your family would already know about that too. Your train of thought makes no sense.
Mig: It was a fresh train of thought, I was still in the midst of thinking it, I hadn’t examined it for logical consistency yet.
Beta: (Raises one devastating eyebrow devastatingly)
Mig: Fresh, I tell you.
Mig: Hi. Watcha doin’?
Gamma: Well I was going to do yoga but I got stuck taking tests online.
Gamma: I wondered if I could name 20 elements, so I took a quiz, then I fell down a quiz hole for an hour.
Mig: Your mother asked me what I was thinking. I said, well, I was thinking if someone kidnapped me and cut off the tip of one of my fingers, and then released me but threatened my family if I told anyone, if I would tell anyone. And how long it would take her to notice one of my fingertips was missing.
Gamma: Well, actually, full disclosure, I was thinking, if we were on a quiz show where they killed you if you didn’t know the answer, would I be able to name 20 elements.
The quick, brown fox could no longer remember whether it had already written a post on a certain topic, or not, but figured if that was the case (that it had forgotten) then anyone else potentially out there in the aether reading this couldn’t either, so why worry?
Alpha, as you know, is looking into family history. We are slowly, as in a couple years down the road, lining up trips to Ireland and Scotland (near the single-malt whisky trail, apparently) to look at where some of my people are from, but for now she is concentrating on her side of the family.
Her father’s people were miners. They worked in an iron mine that dates back to Celts and Romans. She has spent time in archives and churches going through centuries’ worth of birth and death records.
I have already written about this, haven’t I? It feels so familiar.
Miners were the first workers to unionize in Austria (I think). And there were times when the unions were strong, and wages were okay, and living conditions were relatively healthy. And there were times when the unions got busted, and new workers imported from somewhere else, and pages and pages of death records were full of whole families all dying of the same disease at the same time because people were malnourished and crammed into crowded housing.
There was no endless progress from darkness and misery to light and prosperity. Prosperity and health of these ancestors depended on how strong their union was, because the natural tendency of the mine owners, whether church or state or someone else, was to squeeze as much as possible out of them; they had no interest in the welfare of the miners, and revoked what prosperity the miners had once achieved whenever possible.
Pages and pages of people dying at the same time as some sanitation-based epidemic or another burned through the village.
PS break up Facebook, google, Apple, Twitter, all those guys.
You read this post at Whiskey River so you are on the lookout.
Say you are putting on your pants and trying not to step on a cat that likes your feet in the morning.
The bed is already made, underwear is already on, and pants are next.
Gray pants, part of the gray suit because there are no holes in the pockets of the gray suit yet, unlike most of the black suits, and you are not in the mood to chase keys and hearing aid batteries around the lining of your suit jacket today.
You remember pissing your pants in your mom’s car when you were a little boy.
On the way to the train station, you tell your grown kid about it.
It was hot in the car, and I had to pee bad, you tell her. I thought, if I just let out a drop or two, maybe it will cool me off.
Your mom often drove all over town, what she called running errands, and took you with her.
It was hot, your bladder was full, and when you finally let a drop out there was no stopping.
Imagine your relief when she didn’t spank you. You had thought you were going to get it.
Your kid says, huh.
Imagine it had taken you all the years since then (even though you almost never remembered that event) to realize she had locked a little boy in a car on a hot day, and had not bothered to consider whether he might have a full bladder, and he was not to blame.
My little brother sent me some short videos this week.
It went like this: he transferred VHS tapes to a DVD. Then he played the videos from the DVD on his computer, and filmed the monitor with his iPhone. Then he sent me the iPhone videos via a social media site, and I forwarded them to my family.
The quality of the videos was of course poor; not only were the original tapes nearly 30 years old, each step transferring, copying and refilming degraded them further.
And yet: they were still superior to my own memories of the events — a visit we paid to my family in the United States when our oldest daughter was one year old.
Alpha and I are now older than my parents are in the videos.
The house in which we sing Happy Birthday has since burned in an arson fire, and then been torn down to make way for a mall parking lot.
Some details were only slightly surprising: Beta is a serious baby in the video. I remember that she was a serious baby, but she was even more serious than I recall.
Some details contradicted our memories entirely: for 30 years, we have told Beta she never crawled, just went straight from rolling to walking. But in the video she crawls just fine. She was a fast crawler, chasing my parents’ wiener dog all over the living room.
To be honest, the videos freaked me out a little.
The speed at which time passes, for one thing. How people just die, two people from the video, for example, but time just keeps going.
But we know that. What really freaked me out was how the evidence contradicted our memories. I know I forget things. We all forget things. I know I have forgotten most of my life, when it comes down to it. But to see blurry, grainy but genuine evidence that even the little bit I remember is false, that’s freaky.
It’s one thing to read somewhere that memory is nothing but stories we tell ourselves, and that any particular memory is altered to a greater or lesser extent with each re-telling, but to actually see the proof like that makes you wonder what else you’re wrong about.
What grudges you’d be better off dropping.
What pain you could let go.
You may recall the Microsoft 3-D pipes screensaver. If you imagine that leaking uncontrollably from every joint, you have an approximate idea of what it looked like under my kitchen sink last week after I tried to fix a leak and then, as a test I guess? turned the dishwasher on.
I had two buckets under there catching the water, and still had to hold a dish to catch what they missed.
On the bright side our ant infestation is slightly better, maybe they had been taking a short cut under the sink.
I called a plumber and told the woman who answered the phone, I would try to fix it myself but my wife has forbidden that. She LOL’ed.
She said the earliest someone could come was the following day. I said, I’ll take it. Then I called a second plumber, and when he miraculously was able to come the SAME day, by NOON, I called the first plumber and cancelled (as I had warned them I might), AFTER the other plumber had finished and I was satisfied everything was okay.
“Two gaskets were in backwards,” said the plumber’s helper, when he presented me with the bill for signature. “That may have been me, but it may have been someone else,” I said, and signed.
When I checked under the sink, everything had new gaskets AND they had rearranged the pipes in a more rational order. I don’t recall who did the original plumbing, but it looked somewhat random, where the sink trap had been placed and the angles of the pipes. It looks better now.
My wife was impressed that I managed to get a plumber to come on short notice, and says I may deal with plumbers from now on.
I guess it was the desperation in my voice, combined with my generally jolly yet panicky nature.