Monday, September 24, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I churned the gears down the river road, churning them out until they made a metallic moan, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, I'd never hit 4th before the red light. One baby booster-seated and one baby "I'm so big!" seated into the back seat, sleepy faced and oblivious to the ritual morning ride and Janis Joplin seeping from the console. And I was a little panicked.

The digitial dashboard clock was timing us, if I made the green, I had time to smoke a cigarette with Kimbies before dropping the children off, if it caught me on red.....forget it.

The Red light came quick and our seatbelts hiccupped. Snatching all three of us a little closer to the back of the ride. Three days until Christmas. And there in my rear view mirror were my sock-footed morning children, content, lazy, at peace.

"Dear Santa,
Don't worrie abot us. We ar good. We onle wont one thing. A camputeer. For Mommy and us. We love you a bunch and have oreos. And Moonpie wawnt bak at you, we told her not to, so you can come in our hawse.
Love,
Haley and Jonah"

Oh dear God, I thought, they picked only one thing. No hot wheels, Barbie dolls, puzzle ships, bicycles with frillies. One thing. For Mommy and them. The tree was decorated and dying already, we had lugged it home the night before, needles falling everywhere, on mighty clearance. I didn't have the nerve to put lights on it, and didn't have the heart not to. So I plugged it in anyway, and willed it not to burn the house down. They were thrilled.

The light turned green and I zoomed. No time now for a cigarette. Kimbies met me in the driveway to fetch them, in their pajamas, little square boxes of cereal in their backpacks. Another day at hippie daycare. I kissed them and slammed in reverse, free to smoke now, windows wide open. 1st gear, 2nd, 3rd.....

And then I saw them. The fireman's boots. Standing proudly next to the three matching garbage cans. It was trash day in our world. And I stopped. Reversed again. And stared at them.....

"I believe"......

So I snatched them.... the black rubber boots, Santa Clause's gear, and hurled them into the back seat. At lunchtime, Joe called me at the office, I panicked. He never called me here. My neighbor, my friend. Surely I forgot to unplug the tree and the damn house was on fire. I pictured him standing next to his pick-up truck calmly watching the flames, choosing his words carefully, as he watched my home come tumbling down.

"You said the kids only wanted a computer, right?" "Uh, yeah, but Joe, you know that ain't happenin', is the damn house on fire?" "Nah....it's okay, but I just picked Patty up from work and the hospital was throwing out all their old units, they're empty, you know" "What the hell are you talkin' about, Joe?" "Well, they're empty, they deleted everything from them, but Patty climbed in the dumpster and we grabbed one, and I'm pretty sure by tomorrow I can load it up with something" .....

Christmas Day....

My little ones awoke to the green glow of an institutional monitor in the hallway, the screen saver scrolling these words.....
"Love, Santa"......
it was fully loaded with battleship and checkers, and nothing more......

and the black rubber boots were under the tree....
with a note that read.....
"Now that we made it as far as Florida, we decided to barefoot it from here on......"


KJ....thank you for stirring this memory up, I'll explain the bottlecaps later.

52 comments:

skinnylittleblonde said...

Barefoot Santa! Love it!

eric1313 said...

And so the walls started being colored with the green glow of an emerald and velvet monitor...

And now look at you, miss high tech hippie. TVs are a depressing brain-drain, so you paint little footprints all over the world. Love it.

And love the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, dropping needles everywhere, with a star or an angel pulling the top down low, but you couldn't have it another way, not Christmas in paradise...

With the pitter patter of Santa feet.

Peace, friend, peace...

Maithri said...

This is so very very cool.

You really need to publish some of what you write. Its so beautiful.

Cant wait till the festive season,

Love and christmas lights,

Maithri

Spadoman said...

Ho Ho Ho!

WE always got a tree after 6PM on Christmas Eve, after all the stands closed and everyone went away to the bar or their family. We'd purposly choose the scrawniest, bare needled tree so it would feel wanted and needed and loved. We loved it as each of us felt we were loved by each other. We'd decorate as we ate pizza. Home made, but frozen Tombstone brand some lean years, along with a table full of whatever we could put out to eat. The next morning, Santa had always visited and brought something. Seems like Santa smoked the joint we left him and ate all the cookies and the cold pizza every year.

We're thinking Halloween and Los Dios de los Muertes right now. Christmas is a long way off.

Peace to all.

Crashdummie said...

Wow, that was what I call a feel good story - just what I needed this cold, rainy, grey autumn day...

karma lennon said...

That is so awesome. Such a great story. Reminds me of the time my brother and I woke up Christmas morning to find footprints in the fireplace....

she said...

singtome: you take my breath away every singtome time! i hope you do not mind me showcasing this story on my site..

i can't resist.

you know the secret. love, ~s.

Sandy Kessler said...

boy oh boy do I rememeber the clearance trees. now you can never get one.This year I got a snowing Christmas tree that perpetually snows to feed the forever kid in me in fact I thought of that yesterday .. what a moving story., I'd read your book you know. how's the leg??

kj said...

ok, singleton, this is THE piece to send to several magazines. you are a writer, girl. it's time to get these stories into the hands and hearts of other readers (if you want to..)

and of course i want to know my part in inspiring this christmas tale--this tale of abundance and trust.

i wish i smoked and drank and were sitting on a porch swing in the deep south with a few sisters i now kinda know....

:)

kj said...

oh, i now know what inspired this piece: the goddess of kindness! and the theory of abundance!

Dee is for Dana said...

What a great story...it brought a tear to my eye!
I swear you and SLB need to compile your stories for a book. It seems so obvious - you are natural writers!

benjibopper said...

now i'm all excited for christmas! great story. dumpster gifts are the best.

karoline said...

**smiles**

{{{singleton}}}

k:)))

singleton said...

sweet slb....and I remember another visit from the real ho-ho, many years before that....and three wide eyed sleepy headed little 'uns finding an abandoned sleigh in the front yard.....and the look of awe.....
Clink!in' ya, Virginia!

Eric....in all their simplicity, they had asked for the moon! How could I have ever known then that the grafitti on our walls would drip, spread, spray onto the screen.....and now would be now....
and that giant gray computer, that hummed when you plugged it in, would be the very probable, beginning of this!

maithri....I love the lights, too. Like a zillion stars hanging from the rooftops. And the magic. Can't ever get enough magic!

spado! It's like going to the pound...you know the pedigree pup will be scooped up in no time at all, but the scrawny little one with the pink eyes and mange is the one that lifts his paw to you and steals your heart.....the one that needs you, the one you take home and love..... It's so good to see you again, sweet friend!

singleton said...

crash....in real life, it was the same way, on a gloomy cruddy whatever kind of day......And then Boom! The Miracle on 34th Street! And by the way, we believe!

karma....isn't that so cool? And something you will remember forever, long after the barbie doll playhouse is discarded, the nancy drew books....the memory....

she....you are the secret! The one i wish everyone on this planet knew about!

sandy...you gotta tell me about this tree! I'm fascinated! Our Charlie Browns have been replaced with a leaning, very precariously, neon palm tree.....the ornaments dangle high enough to be safe from wild kittens and well, you probably know by now....I just love neon......
And clink! Only two more weeks of cast-footedness to go! Well, crossing my fingers anyway!

kj...well, I'm glad you don't smoke, arrrghhh, horrid habit we all have down here, but I'd welcome your smile and thoughts and clink! on the porch anytime, and yeah, I knew you'd figure it out......you said the words, and this one just came flooding back...one of many, many times when Angels have taken over the show!

Peace~love~believe, my friends

singleton said...

Dee....ha! I know you've heard tons of these tell-tale stories over the years! We sooooo need to do the beach thing again..... and let the stories roll...... !

Benji...Clink! ya big time on this one....that would be where the bottlecaps come into play.....we quit doing the traditional commercialized Christmas gift giving years ago and instead.....have a huge Pass The Trash gala! Everyone shops from their own closets, garages, dumpsters, curbsides, kitchens, hearts.....And it is so very, very cool!

karoline.....Big ones! :) You rock, my friend! And just so you know, and I always forget to mention it, the quote from Khalil Gibran....that was beautiful!

peace~love~ believe, my friends

drips of paint said...

I do not celebrate Christmas but this year it came early and I really have enjoyed it with you....

I love the boots and the santa's note ... the kids must have felt on top of the world ...

but then don't we all felt like that around you...
:)))

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

I agree with everyone here. You brought me to tears. The best thing about being a mother being able to give our children what they need. (You raised two beautiful kids there, only asking for one thing.) Being a single mother must be the hardest damn thing. You have more than my respect. I love ya girl.
Your kids must love you to death.
xo
Blue

SpongyBones said...

Damn, how cool is this. Imagine the story the kids will tell when they are older ... man I should have lived in FL all Santa left for me was a bag of coal in the mornings when I was a kid!

justacoolcat said...

Totally awesome. "Now that we made it as far as Florida, we decided to barefoot it from here on......"

You have to be the most creative mom ever.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Fabulous!

paddy said...

So there is a Santa- looks like.
I'm makin' a list this year, that's for sure.
Nice one!
Y;-) Paddy

Scott from Oregon said...

Santa wore thongs... I knew it!

eric1313 said...

Yoo-hoo... hippie friend? You painting those zillion stars or what?

singleton said...

drips....the season for believing is always now! We've been blessed enough to find magic in unexpected places and to have it find us in unexpected times.....in between....we just wait....it's kind of like peace and love....you gotta grab it when it's yours!

gillian.....I can't tell you how many nights I tossed and turned, how many morning rides I hollered at the skies....wondering where the next this....or that....would come from. It's been a tough ride, and one I wouldn't trade for anything. Wanting, even desperately needing, has taught us all things, we couldn't have learned elsewhere....And I love them to pieces....

spongy....we had a few bags of that show up when we were little too! And I'm not sure what story the kids will tell, because unless they read it here....as far as they were concerned.....Santa came just like everyone said he would! Only he left his shoes......

suchacoolcat.....now what else was I supposed to do with those Fireman boots in the middle of a magic spell?

Ultra....It was probably the best Christmas ever, but then we've had a few!

paddy....make it! Trust me on this one! I ask for Peace every year. Never forget to. And it gets dribbled out in little confetti shapes amongst the chaos....but still, it comes....

scott....well, I don't know. I never saw Joe's underoos and never met the Fireman!

eric....Indian. Whisperer. And one little star. That's whats on the clipboard now. Whoootie-hoo, whatcha doin'?

Peace~love~believe, my friends

eric1313 said...

I'm here. Runnin my Spybot thingy to get all those nasty programs to disapear and let me fly.

Indian? whisperer? one little star???

Sounds intriguing--glad to see my around the world friends become yours and your become mine. That's the power... the effect...

"Fly on, my sweet angel--fly on through the sky--fly on my sweet angel--tomorrow I'm gonna be by your side."
--angel, by sir Jimi Hendrix. You should downlad that one. Or "bold as love" . I'm a Jimi consosuer...

Or if you can find it, "Catfish Blues". I love, love love that song!

singleton said...

Catfish blues....
and i remember when
his dark silhouette
was a damp shadow
on the other side
of the seawall
casting
quiet dreams
and
drummers thoughts
like ten cent bait....
and the sun was rising
and my coffee cup
was cold...
bloody mary's hidden in the
ceramic mug and
we were nodding
at the sun
pajama wrapped

"Whadidya catch?" I smiled
staring at his sandy feet
black on white
climbing the 1970's
driftwood steps

"Nuthin".....he muttered
never looking up
and I clinked him as he passed,
and watched him peek
from the corner of his
muddy catfish eyes....

and smile....

eric1313 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric1313 said...

You wondered what I saw,
looking over my shoulder
like sixth grade valentines
all over again

and I tell you--
you wouldn't believe it
but I say it anyway...

A lady of the waves,
maybe even a shinning tail,
or a wild, tall tale
gold silk hair like legend,
and skin kissed by the sun
as she sits on her rock,
waiting for me to set sail
one more time
before the summer
dives away and under

But looked down
at my knees, buckling
to my courage, drifting
to may palms, sweating
and over my shoulder
in tiome top see a ripple
concentric rings, forevers
one after another
rolling out there

And you were gone,
a mermaid--
the one that got away

A small butterfly danced
and sat and watched
until it and the sun
said goodnight
and had I not felt my heart
battering my chest
I would have died
right there,
on your fairy-tale beach.

eric1313 said...

real time clink! ting!
nice...

you're the magic one--
she who makes me see with
kaleidescope dream-goggles

See a world created in a
butterfly effect...

drips of paint said...

//it's kind of like peace and love....you gotta grab it when it's yours!//

Oh I like that, very true and sweet to the ears.

Thanks for your words at my blog ...

eric1313 said...

hi drips...

waiting for the mermaid, too?

--
Ha!
Sing, I came back here right after you clinked--just finished laying down "Still Dreaming", butterfly moon two. And read your words and as always, something sweetly wicked bubbled up like mermaid's breath from the deep, wild blue....

singleton said...

eric...
it's always a fairytale beach
everyday
in it's
"do you have a pass?"
or
"pay here"
lean~to entrance....
it used to be free...
to drive on
to walk on
to wander on
after your Senior Prom
midnight
and your Mama knew
but wondered where you were
floating like driftwood
asleep
and
dreaming
on the hang ten towel
free....
but now
they collect tickets
at the door
and I freely
pay the price
to
wander
"up or down I wonder"
on fairytale beach

drips....And I mean that...the treasures are so rare, so little....but if you snatch them, grab them, hang on to them for dear life....they are huge. Like accidental pearls in a sea of oysters waiting. And really, what are we living for, if not for peace and love....

And so I say, peace~love, my boys....you rock, my artist friends.....and yes, we dance to different drummers, but we dance.....
and the music goes on and on....

eric1313 said...

Hey, lady...

Was waiting around for ya, then got lost in the archives, looking at the sights. Sorry I missed you, I could use a tiny little porch party.

singleton said...

eric...I've been jumping porches an lifetimes and lovelines all night long....and can I tell you again how prophetic your lines are?

eric1313 said...

you may...

I got the time!

eric1313 said...

Just kidding... I know. Kind of, sort of, but I do know. Glad to have met you. Butterfly Moon was when you and Skinny first appeared.

That was incomparable.

singleton said...

Hell, I don't do horoscopes,
but i'm pisces
and they made all that chit chat
up
to try to explain
me
and
then you told on me
all over the place
and no one knew but
i knew you knew
the "big fish" story...
the sisters swimming,
the I go left and you go right
and we
go straight
the upstream
wading knee deep
and then
floating
until we're winged
and flying
until we laugh
or fall, crash,

"up or down I wonder"

eric1313 said...

Up
or
Down

we swim

left
or
right

we fight
the current
that pulls so many
under.

Us
swimming
floating
flying
living
breathing
laughing
at it all
with every ghost
telling them
not to fear
the hollow reaper's
grin

up
down

inside
outside

left and right
and always
together

You know?
You know.

eric1313 said...

We're both there
in that Piscean boat,

Venus, Mars

The stars frame
our stories in jeweled
black velvet high.

Dancing
Catfish
Dogfish

The still waters
are not only a way
for us to get home.

They are our home.

eric1313 said...

Don't mind me! I'm hopping porch to treehouse to porch like my shorts are on fire, but I have a tab open here that I check every few minutes.

singleton said...

And I am literally running back and forth
screen porch
to screen porch
sirens screaming
wilting
fading
friends
smoking,waiting, crumpling
sevens
elevens
hugs and let me check my wayward
son and I'll be right back
and yes
it is prophetic
and a full moon
blame it then
and clink it...

and I'm so tired
from all the hoo~hah
and whaaa~whaaa
and whats the matter, now

"Catfish
Dogfish

The still waters
are not only a way
for us to get home.

They are our home.

And fridays are
for
dancing.....

eric1313 said...

Damn, you rock.
Hope your dreams are sweet and the morning doesn't kick your butt...




"Fridays are for dancing--"
she smiled and took my hand.

Saturdays are for circles,
growing wide with sharing hands.

All the blessed Sundays...
Sundays are just for rest.

Ask your mother ocean,
lying still beneath the heat.

We can see ourselves ripple
as we slip into her blue depths--

And float like these arcane words
on smoke clouds from our lips.

Mondays are for mornings
snoozebars, and not agains...

Tuesdays are for two;
happy hours, sad seconds slipping.

Wednesdays are for the grind--
its called hump day for a reason!

Thursdays are for thunder
that echoes before the end...

"And Fridays are for dancing"
I can't wait to hear you say...

Again.

Spadoman said...

I'm still sittin' on the curb waitin' :-)

Enemy of the Republic said...

Santa will be giving a lot of Iphones this year if people are nice, not naughty. No, I am not expecting one.

Fuzzylogic said...

Wow!such a lovely Santa story and Singleton you have a way of spinning it and making it all the more magical. Wonderful!!!!:)

singleton said...

eric....
"Thursdays are for thunder
that echoes before the end..."
as long as there's no lightening
I'm good to go.....
enough strikes
pitching through the skies
last night.....
clink!
to the echoes....

sweetspadoman...
I remember.....:)

enemy....I don't know a thing about Iphones....whew! I hope I don't get one!

fuzzy....oh, so nice to see you again, how do I lose you on this blogger switch? Gotta fix that!

peace~love to all

eric1313 said...

Lightning what kept you up all night? Hope you aren't too tired.

*Knew you'd you'd like the eight days a week poem!

eric1313 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric1313 said...

Creating, are we? I hope so. I thought I felt the earth shiver a tiny bit...




There it goes again...

A tremble and sigh from
the mother goddess.

A mermaid is being born...

Let her breathe... (we will)

And tell her one good story
(we are)
so she won't be alone
in this world that is
mostly broad ocean,
and limitless sky above.
(she'll never be)
(she'll always just be)

mindy said...

what a great idea.. i may have to borrow the boots idea. :)

singleton said...

eric....
the lightening was just a quiet growing of what was to come,
the house lights flashing
before the
show
showtime
showdown
began
and now
in the darkness coffee time
cream and sugar please
I draw
stick figures in the sand
praying
the storms
the firehot
needle rain
of the nights before
are tamed

they live here you know
a cyclic
hovering
hurricane
poisen fed

peace~love my friend
PS Box should be here today or tomorrow!!!!!!! Whooooo-hooooo!

mindy....oh, I so wish I still had them, I'd pack 'em off to you in time for Ho!Ho!