December 10, 2009

Spirit of Christmas

Does an 8 year-old boy have the Spirit of Christmas?

My brother Pat, was 8.
I was 5.

He and I were always fascinated by my father's basement workroom;
his place of quiet
and wood dust
and exotic-colored paints and pungent varnishes
of fine and grand pieces and parts
of model airplanes
built of light-as-a-feather tissue-thin papers
and fine balsa wood
layers of paint and varnish
and hours and hours of tender ministrations.

A workshop also crowded by large-and- heavy tools-of-the-trade
sheet metal cutters
wrenches and sledge hammers
table-top vises
for the fire-filled furnaces
and boxy air conditioning units
that were the work behind the man.

And dust and cobwebs
and nails and screws and bolts
CB radios
old broken television sets
two to three ashtrays filled with gray powder
pipes and boards
and "projects" to be fixed for my mom;
lamp-of-no-light-and frayed-cord
broken bird house

And in early December
as Pat and I crept into
the dark and dusy cave
of my father's workroom;
there on the workbench

a wooden structure;
3' tall, 4' wide (!)
and yet
green exterior walls
a red roof
(looks like our house!)
and the front of this house
hinged and open
to expose internal
with blue walls
pink walls
yellow walls
red (!) walls
and soft-warm-and-sweet chocolate walls.

It was lovely
and I gasped with the beauty.
While my brother's eyes grew wide
(and frightened ?!)

"What IS it?", I asked.

He paused.

And thought.

And pondered.

(Remember the scene from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas",
when Grinch is questioned by Little Suzi-Who
about why he is taking the tree from their home?
And the look on the face of the Grinch as he
comes up with the whopping lie?)

My brother had the same look on his face...
(evil - or good?)

"Why, it is a BIRD HOUSE,
with separate rooms for each
little bird
to live and sleep in",
he proclaimed proudly;
and swore me to ultimate secrecy
not to tell Dad that we knew.
NOT to tell mom and ruin the wonderful surprise.

And I promised
and forgot about the
large bird house,
happy to be "old enough"
to be entrusted by my
older and wiser
with such a good secret.

Christmas morning:
We woke
crept downstairs from our bedrooms
to the tree and
all the wonderful sights.

(No birdhouse in sight?)

And as we completed unwrapping.
My father brought out the surprise
not to my mom -
but to ME!

a wonderful dollhouse.
A wonderful secret.

And an 8-year old's
Spirit of Christmas.


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