I suppose there is great intelligence in us learning to not look too hard at what is hiding under the surface of life. Like the curtain that was hiding the magic of the wizard. Or engineering a cool mirror that you can stick under a door when Christmas presents are being brought in one afternoon just a few short — in reality a few LONG days before Christmas.
I still wish I hadn’t seen that three-foot-tall doll reflected in the tiny mirror. But I did and I hope I learned my lesson. Probably not all the way, but for the most part.
Then once in a great while something pokes at me that just needs to be explored. Caution to the wind and let all the cards land where they may. Now you may think this would be about surprises and hidey stuff. About secrets and just how long things can be held under wraps, kept under a hat, kept in the dark. No, it was just a silly mouse.
I have been a little under the weather the past few weeks and I have let the holidays with color, sounds, food, families, shiny paper and ribbons and sniffy trees happen without me. Oh, I miss it all but. Yes an all-out Christmas celebrating “but.” I not only know the reason for this grand season, I also know there will be the promise of another one next year. So I am swallowing my effervescence and thinking of past moments. We all have them. That last turkey sandwich. AARRGGHH. Please no more turkey.
This little memory is maybe more years old than the number of cat toes that meet me for food every morning. Trust me, that’s a lot of toes. My father-in-law came back from World War II and had decided to have no more children due to the camps he and his GI buddies were shown throughout Nazi Germany. So, he had one son, who turned out to kinda like me and we moved ahead with life stuff.
It was not long before I was introduced to the very formidable parents. At a supper club. I never went anywhere where a hamburger was not eaten in the front seat. I didn’t slobber or drool. I did however order the same thing my soon to be new father-in-law ordered. You know just making points. He ordered hot hamburger steak with mashed potatoes and brown gravy. I do not like brown gravy, but of course I was Trina and soon my father-in-law and I were grand friends.
That Christmas found me away from my family and with what was going to be family for many Christmas celebrations. Under the tree there were wonderful things. As I came to realize clothes were always too small, kitchen oddities were cool, once, then my knives and my know how to cook always came back to life. But that first Christmas, when my father-in-law had discovered he had a daughter, put a look on his face that I see poignantly often as time goes on. He got up from is Lazy Boy recliner, slogged through torn and thrown aside gobs of paper with sticky tape that made the paper stick to his sock covered feet. He retrieved a little wrapped goody sitting on a limb of the Christmas tree. It was no bigger than a fun size candy bar. He turns around and hands it to me. No bow or card, just something wrapped up in a piece of silver paper. Inside there was this cute little seashell designed mouse pin with leather ears and tail. It was pinned to a florescent pink piece of poster board on which was written, “I Love you.”
We hugged and I like to think that after the war and the life of no more children he had decided on, that maybe, just maybe he didn’t have any other children until one plopped down in his life. I didn’t ever wear the mouse pin. It was magical the way I looked at it every Christmas when I brought it out and displayed it in places where it became a mouse hunt. By the tree, in the kitchen, there’s some miles on that mouse.
I only had my father-in-law in my life for about 11 years before cancer took him. But that little mouse still comes out at Christmastime to remind me that no matter what you think you know about what your life should be because of the actions of others, life is ever changing. Surprises are what make the snow in my globe of life exciting.
So shake it up over and over again.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book, “They Call Me Weener” is available on Amazon.com or email her to get a signed copy.