Saturday, December 19, 2015

Only In My Dreams.

There they were. The purest white snowbanks I'd ever seen, piled four feet high in some places, resting peacefully along the side of the road. So delightful in their calm repose, nestled against parked cars and mailboxes. Each slope of wonderful, glistening ivory was as unique as the snowflakes they were comprised of. How joyous in their simplicity, catching each and every ray of sunshine. Their sheen brought a welcomed serenity to the landscape. Children everywhere, with sleds in hand, enjoyed the fresh powder with their siblings and friends. This was by far one of the best parts of the holiday season.

I can't help but think of the great feasts with my brother and parents. Dad would cut into a massive turkey that seemed to almost leap off the platter, heaping mountains of mashed potatoes, the most delectable homemade cranberry sauce ever produced. We could eat forever and ever, never leaving the dinner table except for more pie and yeast rolls. There was that one time we even had a Christmas goose, just to say we'd tried it.

After dinner, we'd take a stroll along the edge of Old Man Gershwin's pond. A thick layer of glossy ice plastered across, it would mirror the sky in an endless pool of moonlit radiance. Occasionally, we'd work up enough courage to walk a few feet out, though never tempting the fates to the point of no return. Not once could I venture onto the ice without falling over, though. Brother, you'd laugh at me with the fervor of an excited school boy. Though, as the years have rolled on, I have a harder time remembering your face as it was.

Before the large bay window of our home, we'd build a friendly snowman. Clad in old work gloves, a tattered scarf and with a gnarled parsnip for a nose, we'd call him Marvin and make fun of his beady little charcoal eyes. The large evergreen tree dressed with lights and shiny ornaments would provide a glowing halo to our downtrodden friend of snow, making his simple nature appear all the more jolly. Seems like he could hold his position for an eternity, given the chance.


Leaving the dreamscape, I parted my eyes just for a moment, only to quickly shut them again while groping blind for my rotary phone.

"Hi mom. Yep. Yep. I feel fine. Sure. I'll meet you at Winthrop Gardens at 12:30. I do. Alright. Love you, too."

Rising from my kitchen table, I returned the phone to its receiver and took a survey of my domain. A cheap pharmacy-store Santa Claus wobbled back and forth atop my old television set. Only the glow of his electric candle brought any sort of warmth to the room, all but steeped entirely in everlasting twilight. Grabbing my car keys from the hook next to the humming refrigerator, I pulled firmly upon my apartment's front door. Creaking loudly, it slid into the well-established groove in the tarnished hardwood floor. A squeak with each landed step, I made my way downstairs and to my car, now assuredly covered in many inches of snow.

Winthrop Gardens is as good a place as any, I suppose. Resting in a valley between a series of insignificant hills and the paper mill, it was populated by a great many residents. My father and brother happened to be two of them. While waiting for my mom to arrive, I brushed the snow off of their grave stones. My brother, whom never even lived long enough to receive a name, had been here since before I can remember. Dad was interred next to him when I was six. Four days before Christmas, he went out for a drink at McFarley's Tavern. On the way home, he wrapped himself around an old oak tree. We buried him on Christmas Day.

Mom brought a bouquet of flowers for Dad and brother. For me, she had a small box. Inside was a tiny pair of white socks she'd knitted for my brother. We hugged and just stood there, letting the holiday spirit soak into our tired bones. Is this Christmas? I seemed to ask myself the same question every year, but never could produce a worthwhile answer.

On the drive home, I took notice of the bulbous mounds of snow piled high along the street. Covered in grime and muck from the road, they didn't seem to shine quite as brightly as I remembered. Waiting at a stoplight, my hand came to rest upon the small box in my coat pocket. Taking the lid off and gently clutching the two socks, I laid them neatly in the center of my passenger seat. Those two white socks, so perfect and clean. Clean like the fresh-fallen snow in my dreams.

"Merry Christmas, brother."

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