Our oldest daughter, Boo, was never fully convinced she was ours… perhaps a switch in the hospital nursery? Yeah, her real momma returned her and swapped for a sleepy-time baby–one that would actually close her eyes and sleep! Irony of ironies, she is now grown and has two sons who made her childhood sleeping patterns look practically narcoleptic. Ah, sweet Karma.
During her teenage years, when Boo was saddled with square parents and irritating siblings, being in the car with us was a special nightmare for her. For one thing it was a station wagon. Not cool to be seen in it even without the burden of her faux family pretending to be hers. Drive-thru windows, whether bank or fast food, sent her diving for the floorboard lest someone see her with this bunch of hillbillies masquerading as her family. And most horrifying of all, her father would crack jokes to the clerks.
There may have been some justification for her embarrassment, especially on vacation trips: LONG drives from Wisconsin to coastal Carolina and back. To make it more palatable back in those pre-DVD days, sometimes between old radio tapes of The Shadow and Our Miss Brooks, we plugged a portable tv into the cigarette lighter and trailed the cord over the middle seat to the back of the station wagon so they could climb over and watch tv whenever we were near tv signals. That arrangement meant that our luggage had to go into the cartop carrier, one of those Sears Turtle things. We did look a little… um…Clampett-esque.
Those were my crafty days. Hand sewn ornaments, baking cookies…I was really into all that. Handmade items saved a lot of money on little gifts for neighbors and relatives, especially valuing my time as “nil.” My best efforts were felt mice ornaments: a night-capped mouse sleeping in a little hammock made to hang between two Christmas tree branches, a robed church mouse holding a hymnal, a baby mouse peeking out of a tiny embroidered Christmas stocking. Nothing hilbilly about my mice!
They took inordinate amounts of time to make, but almost nothing in supplies, so the craft basket that sat beside my chair held a few fabric scraps, a few felt squares in mousey and Christmas colors, and a few yards each of quarter-inch red and green ribbons. It was all handwork, so I’d work on them evenings, trying to make a dent in my Christmas gift list. They were easy to package and mail since they were non-breakable and lightweight.
One year when Oldest Daughter was in high school I did lots of baking, but made only a couple of mice ornaments. For one thing, my green ribbon had disappeared and there was no more to be had in that town. Anything Christmasy sold fast there. In those small Midwestern towns with a foot or so of snow on the ground, folks are BIG on decorating for Christmas, so much so that sometimes they leave them up for months. (Trying to remove lights frozen onto shrubbery out in below-zero weather does give one reason for re-thinking them as colorful Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day and even Easter lights.)
Christmas Eve morning I was up early to bake cinnamon rolls and when Mittens the cat padded down the stairs after me I noticed something trailing behind him. I thought he had something stuck to his foot, but on closer examination, saw it was coming from him. . . trailing from behind, if you get my drift… and there was only one opening back there. I screamed for Dearly Beloved.
Mittens is losing his intestines!
He came, he saw, but he couldn’t catch Mittens, who ran to the back of the house (litter box territory) dragging his kite tail behind him. When he reappeared, it looked as if he had an even longer train of. . . whatever. To be grossly graphic, it had bumps along it, little brown pompoms. I was frantic but completely at a loss as to what to do to help him. The vet’s office was closed. Should I try to stuff it back in? Cut it off and try to staunch any bleeding? Was he dying?
And then I saw it. . . a flash of green along the “hanging chads.” My brain also flashed–I knew immediately the whereabouts of my green Christmas ribbon. This was The Passing of the Green. It was alarming, but at the same time, so ridiculous it was funny, especially considering what I’d thought was happening. When you think your cat is losing his guts, realizing he’s crapping a green streak is much less alarming.
While two of our children worried for the cat, the third–Boo–stood at the top of the stairs of this House of Horrors and began shrieking between retching sounds.
(URP!) Things like this don’t HAPPEN to other families…! (URP!) I KNOW I was switched at birth! Even our (URP!) cat is gross!! I know I must belong to a NORMAL family out there somewhere! (BLEH, URP!)
Everything came out fine. I mean that literally. Boo’s stomach settled and the cat had seasonally decorated his litterbox by late afternoon. The ribbon which could have twisted and killed him had passed through–the entire three feet of it.
Now that Boo’s children are sleeping better, they have entered Stage 2 Her oldest is entering the stage where his parents seem dumber every day. Perhaps she will finally feel that genetic pull and admit that yep, she’s really ours. And good luck to her on convincing her kids she’s THEIR real mom!
I hope she likes her birthday gift. I still need to wrap first. Now where did I put that green ribbon?