The Gift That Keeps on Giving

SAM_0468‘Tis the season for gift giving and receiving. Whether one celebrates, Chanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, or is Druid, there is usually tradition that includes food, family and gifts. Well, isn’t that nice.

Bah. Humbug. Over the years, I have gotten increasingly grumpy about this tradition. Part of the reason is having to spread cheer over multiple states as we go over the river, through the woods and up a hill to grandmother’s house. Another is the endless things-to-do list that comes from orchestrating magic for multiple generations in multiple households. I thought my kids were NEVER gonna outgrow that damn elf on a freaking shelf. Why did the elves have to make messes? Who decided THAT? Couldn’t an elf CLEAN a mess? But when you know your kids are gonna go to school and compare their elf’s antics with what their friend’s elf did the night before, you let the bugger get into the Christmas cookies and make a mess. I still haven’t forgiven the friend who let HER kids’ elves go get fast food one night, leaving half-eaten hamburgers and wrappers in their mini van.

Try to top that. Thank heavens our elves weren’t so A type.

Of course there’s orchestrating magic for the Big Show. By the time Santa arrived at my parents’ house every year, spousal unit and I lay prostrate on the floor, unable to move, trying to figure out how to get a Barbie Jeep from West Virginia to Nashville. Santa’s miracle was to get it to my mom and dad’s place. Our miracle was to get it home.

Then the offspring did what offspring do and they grew up. The magic faded, as did our desire to make it. That’s when my hum-bugginess really kicked in. I have to admit, the light in their eyes, the excitement and joy that came from the magic of believing made all of the travel, orchestration and work almost worth it. Without the leap of faith that helped elves create messes and Santa bring Barbie Jeeps, the motions were just that: motions.

And it is gonna be a LONG time before grandkids bring back the magic. Or at least it had better be.

Then I bought a vintage mini camper and named her Daisy. It is amazing what a hunk of metal, vinyl and paneling can do to bring magic back into a life. For some reason, the potential of Daisy brings back the potential of me. I am day dreaming again. For example, I think next year, after Daisy is restored, we are going to decorate her for the season. Who says reindeer can’t pull a camper? Or maybe pink flamingoes. Heck, when magic is in the air anything is possible!

Daisy has a generous spirit. Just think of what she has already brought to the Caldwell family. Joy. Esprit des corps. A sense of adventure. A renewed need for Band Aids. I think Daisy would like to be the bearer of gifts next year, after she is mobile and recaptures her good looks. Maybe Daisy will deliver toys in neighborhoods in which Santa needs a little helper. Maybe she will serve hot chocolate and cookies near the mission.

Daisy’s generous spirit has been mirrored by my friends with generous spirits. I’ve received the most fun gifts in honor of Daisy this holiday season. One is a mini camper ornament and another is a cleverly crafted birdhouse, assembled from metal in the shape of a mini camper. These gifts make me smile. And giggle. And feel a little bit of the magic that comes from the season of food, family and gifts. God bless us every one.


A Camper Is Like An Onion

20141129_173620Vintage campers have many layers and sometimes, like an onion, a camper can make you cry. After Boy Child returned to college at the end of Thanksgiving break and Spousal Unit went out of town for work, the girls they left behind have been pouting and maybe even growling at one another just a little bit. Daisy seems to be pouting more than the rest of us, and looks very dejected and alone, half dressed with her insides pulled out like our Thanksgiving turkey’s gizzards. I feel guilty.

Lonely and morose, I ventured to Daisy on a gray, heavy day this past week. I wanted to see if days of rain had made their presence known within her walls.

During Thanksgiving break, when the menfolk were ripping out paneling and insulation, it was with reckless, noisy abandon. They grunted, groaned, ripped, pounded, cussed (we’re keeping an injury record, along with the budget and time spent on Daisy) and stomped through her insides. I’m not a dainty woman and I’m not a quiet one, but when I stepped up to Daisy this week, I was tentative and reverent. This already feels like sacred space to me.

The birch paneling was damp, but not soaked. I grabbed a screwdriver and pushed it through Daisy’s wood veneer. Behind the paneling, paper-covered, pink insulation bulged from its restraints like my belly over jeans. The first time we removed any of the paneling we had prepared for the worst, with filter masks ready, but were relieved to see that if we were exposed to contact, our only problem would be significant itching from fiberglass and not a deadly case of Asbestosis.

When the insulation is pulled back, Daisy reveals her protective covering. There isn’t much to her, to be honest. Thin corrugated aluminum provides a barrier between what’s out there and what’s in here. It doesn’t seem like much protection. I was told recently that I am thin skinned. I never thought I was thin skinned. After all, I was a copywriter in the ad business. There aren’t many careers where a boss wadding up your day’s work, throwing it against the wall and proclaiming, “This is shit!” is part of the daily grind. Conversely, perhaps the fact that I remember that incident nearly 25 years later is proof of my onion paper-like epidermis.

Even if Daisy and I have thin skin, to quote the great philosopher, Shrek, we are like onions. We have layers. When those layers get moldy, damp or just worn out, we need to improve them. Maybe put a coat of paint on them. For Daisy? Probably Sherman Williams. For me? Estee Lauder’s pallete and Wild Root Salon’s excellent hair coloring. Maybe we need to replace some layers. Daisy’s getting new paneling. I see knee replacements in my future. Who knows what lies ahead with the layers of us that are invisible to the naked eye.

Thin skinned or not, my gal Daisy and I can take a blow and keep on rolling along. The dent where a tree – or parts of it – fell on her has been pounded out. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. As for me and a day’s worth of copywriting being caca? Since that day almost 25 years ago, I have given birth to two babies and raised them to teenagers, provided a home for multiple cats, two dogs, a hamster, multiple gold fish and have owned or leased four horses. Caca is my life. At this point, it’s just another layer.