That one story


To me, the holidays are about stories.

The stories we catch up on. The stories we tell our friends about our family, and the ones we tell our family about our friends. The stories of work, of love, of heartache, of loss and gain. The stories we tell ourselves.

And the stories of the past…

I’d like to tell you one of those.

My mom was a teenage mother. We lived in some rough and tumble places in those early years. She had virtually no help from anyone. But she was determined to get us out and moving up. So she lied her way into an accounting job, and taught herself as she went. They never knew. (Eventually she became a licensed accountant; she taught herself all the way through.)

At one of her upwardly mobile jobs in the early years, there was a Hallmark type store next door. The kind with knick knacks and stuffed toys and such. She’d wander around looking at cards and whatnot. Tiny little me? I went straight to the stuffed animals (cuddly toys in the UK wordage), and I sat in front of a Doberman Pincher nearly as big as I was. It wasn’t pretty. Or soft. Or cuddly. But I was passionately in love with it. I sat and stroked it until we had to leave. I never asked for it, but Mom knew. The thing was, $30 was a hell of a lot of money; she hated that she couldn’t get it for me.

That Christmas I ran to the tree, as kids do. And there it was, guarding the tree with a red bow around its neck.

She’d scraped and saved to make it happen. It was one of the few things I carried with me into adulthood. Until the day came when a my mother’s little godson would go straight to it every time he came over. He’d sit stroking it exactly the way I did, and hated leaving it behind. It found a home with him one Christmas, and he, too, loved it well.

Stories. They’re part of us, and for me the holidays are about revisiting the ones that have helped make us who we are.

Thanks, Mom.

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