Posts Tagged ‘Parents


The 12 Ways of Christmas: that morning

[Part 12]

The first rule of Christmas morning was to wait until everyone was awake before digging in. Whoever was up first, usually me, and in later years, the younger ones, would be forced to sit back from the tree, bright with promise and the buzz of electricity, regarding it like a ravenous, wild thing, chained, silent and steady, waiting for the first chance to strike.

And we did look wild, clothes twisted and unformed, hair standing up in all directions like ruffled fur, eyes still pink and swollen and crusted from sleep, smelling faintly of sweat and bad breath. When the priority is a tree laden with brightly wrapped boxes, there is no time for a glance in the mirror before greeting one’s family.

Mom made coffee in the kitchen and had her morning cigarette. Every time she tried to speak for more than a few seconds at a time, she lost herself in a loud and painful-sounding fit of coughs. (My dad was reading something. We tried to keep the TV off until after the Christmas orgy.)

Grandma was in the same spot on the couch where she had slept over the night before, her legs drawn up beneath her in what I called “Indian style” at the time. She was surrounded in blue smoke, tapping ashes from her cigarette into a large ashtray in her lap and making remarks about all the presents under the tree that we didn’t deserve.

She was probably right. It was usually an embarrassment of riches. We were very lucky. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: that morning’


Prodigal Datsun

Every day city dwellers see countless cars, and of those, remembers or even notices very few without blending them into the road salt- and bird shit-splattered canvas of urban living.

The other day, however, I went walkabout on the city’s brotherly streets and happened upon a vehicle that stood out to me as an unexpected childhood reminder: a Datsun 280ZX. You don’t often see this little gem of 1970s Japanese engineering. At least, I don’t. I wondered for a moment, as I noted the driver’s judicious use of The Club, where he or she gets parts.

Datsun 280ZX
A reminder of mom’s more carefree days.
Datsun 280ZX Matchbox car    
Vroom vroom!

It was my favorite Matchbox car, followed closely by that Italian model that served as the car mode for Wheeljack, of “Transformers” fame.

My parents had just such a Datsun when I was born. (It was the same smoky blue as the one I saw the other day.) It might have been my mom’s. I like to imagine her in a sports car, and I suppose it was a fine vehicle for a school teacher in her mid-20s. Then I came along. And so did the station wagons. And the only place for a fun car in my our lives was in my pocket.

the untallied hours