Santa Lives In Arkansas

Once upon a time in Arkansas……It was just after my first divorce. The kids were little. Under five. I was down to one job, my second job having let me go because they no longer needed the help. We had no money. I could barely manage to keep us in bacon and beans. They’d cut the water off a couple of days before. Christmas not only looked bleak, it looked nonexistent. I’d made the kids a paper tree out of some notebook paper and a paper chain, the tree’s star was cut from more notebook paper, all colored with their crayons. Christmas dinner would be cornbread and white beans, flavored with the last of the bacon. I had 3 eggs and thought maybe I could make a cake. No frosting though. We didn’t have any powdered sugar.

Before I went to work on Christmas Eve, I let them hang up their stockings. A couple of my old knee high socks. I figured I could buy a few candy canes out of my tips that night on my way home. My hope was, since they were so young, they wouldn’t realize that there should be more. I dropped them off at the sitter’s, thanking her again for the imposition of caring for them on this holiday eve. Promising, again, to come back for them as soon as I could. I got back in the car. You had to slide over from the passenger side because the drivers side door had been bashed in in a wreck and wouldn’t open. It was that way when I got it. But hey, it had been a free car, given to us by a friend of my ex’s. I ran my stockings on the slide over….sigh.

Work was surprisingly busy. I was a cocktail waitress. You’d think people would go home rather than be there on Christmas eve. Fortunately for me the holiday spirit made them slightly more generous than usual. Tips were pretty good. I was going to be able to buy the kids each a cheap toy maybe, plus candy canes, and still get new stockings! At last it was time to go home. I cleaned the floors and we locked the door. In a fit of generosity my boss told me I didn’t have to come in the next day. I was grateful–the sitter was going to charge me extra for working on Christmas–but nervous about missing a day’s money.

I stopped at a convenience store (in those days that was all that was open at midnight on christmas eve) and bought the kids each a cheap plastic toy and a candy cane. I even got them each a candy bar. What the heck, new stockings could wait. It was christmas. Besides, I thought I had another pair at home that had one good leg left. I could cut a leg off each pair and make do. I hid the kids stuff under the seat of the car and went to get them. The sitter was pleased to hear that we would both get to spend the next day with our families.

I spent the ride home recalculating my finances to take the loss of tomorrows pay into account. It was going to be tight. I shouldn’t have spent that money in the convenience store. A few tears sneaked out. It was SOOO hard. My poor kids. Maybe I couldn’t do this. What was going to become of us? Perhaps I should take them to the Children’s Home and just give up. They certainly deserved better than I was able to provide. Despair sat beside me on the seat and held my hand. Discouragement winked at me from every set of flashing christmas lights that we passed.

When we arrived home I carried sleeping children into the house and laid them on my bed so I could arrange their “christmas” before they woke up. I left their coats on them. It was cold in my room. We only had 2 gas heaters and neither of them was in my room. As I headed outside to get the bag of hidden loot it dawned on me that the living room was not as dark as it should’ve been. I looked down the room and THERE, on the table where our poor paper tree had stood was a 3 foot christmas tree. It had lights! And decorations! There were stockings! Red fuzzy ones. And they were full of stuff! Candy and oranges and peppermint sticks!

I turned on a light and investigated. Not only was that stuff real, there was more! Scarves and mittens and hats for everyone. A coat for the youngest. Secondhand, but nice and warm looking. She’d about outgrown hers. There was a nice toy for each child and in bags, a frozen turkey and all the trimmings for a real christmas dinner to be made. When the kids got up they found me crying over an envelope that had been sitting in the branches of the tree. It had my name on it. Inside was $25 and a receipt where someone had paid my overdue water bill. The water was on. I had checked. We had a wonderful Christmas.

I never did find out who did this. No one ever admitted to it. Therefore, Santa MUST live in Arkansas.

Yoda

Yoda

Park Pond

park2

Adieu Summer

Adeau Summer

Elves or Aliens?

Elves or Aliens?

Rose Monster

rose monster

What’s Your Elephant’s Name?

This afternoon, while watching tv with my father, the subject of elephants came up. He was watching a nature show of some sort and saw something about an elephant harness. “That’s what we need,” he said, “an elephant harness!” “Then we would just need an elephant.” I replied. “Not necessarily…” was his responce. Immeadiately the conversation turned to what a person could do with an elephant harness. Stand outside shopping malls holding the elephant harness and tell people you had lost your elephant, we thought. See if you could get anyone to help you look for your elephant. Drag the elephant harness to the office of the local newspaper and try to get them to include an ad for your missing pet. My dad began reciting a description of the elephant (grey, about ‘so’ high, big ears, etc), suddenly I chimed in with, “Answers to the name name Packy. If I had an elephant I would name him ‘Packy, or maybe ‘Ethyl’.” We laughed and the conversation died down, but I began to wonder what it says about you if you know instantly what you would name an elephant if you suddenly aquired one.

A lot of my conversations with my father are like this any more. Eliptical and strange, tangental flights of fancy. He watches considerable television and we talk about that, sometimes rather normally, about old movies and the names of various actors or our favorite John Wayne western. Other times however, we stray into things like, what color the dinasauers were, or why advanced alien species would mess around helping us build pyramids, or how the collapse of the sasquatch hunting industry might effect the economy if they ever find him, and of course, what you would name your elephant. My mother mostly stays out of these philosophical dicussions, only rarely succumbing to the impulse to tell us that she cannot see what possible difference it makes. Sometimes she does leave the room though. Usually to go grumble in the kitchen. She thinks we are quite mad I know, but oddly enough, somehow these conversations of conjecture have caused me to know my father much better than I ever have before. These sorts of speculations would never have happened when we were younger. In some fashion, by playing, “let’s pretend” it is possible to slip behind the mask and get to know the man on the other side. And I find that there is a mind much like my own, belonging to a person who, after a couple of minutes, also knows exactly what he would name his elephant. It’s entirely possible I may end up liking the old boy yet.

Oh, and by the way, Dad says he would name his elephant, “Fella”.

Bucky Beaver is Busy

Bucky Beaver is Busy

Shadows

Shadows

Beyondering

To see around the bend

I’ll follow every wind

In search of what comes next

Curiosity ever vexed

I’m going yondering

Gone to see the elephant

‘Cuz I wonder where it went

Sure it’s just over the hill

My feet cannot be still

I’ve gone yondering

A perfect place I know to be

O’er the mountains, beyond the sea

Just there across the river

I see paradise forever

I’m yondering again

Someday surely I will rest

Having found the place that’s best

Although I think that probably

For me he’ven’s in the journey

Forever yondering.

 

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