The garage on the right was built in the 1990s, to replace the one that burnt down in ’68. Sliding glass door and deck were also later additions.
Two score and ten years ago today–December 3, 1960–my parents and siblings moved into their new house. They’d lived on the land for a few years already while saving for, designing and building their home. The old house became our garage.
Ever after, we celebrated this anniversary with a special meal that marked the beginning of our Christmas season. Each of us would receive an ornament for the tree and something interesting to eat that was all ours. For me, a jar of maraschino cherries. For Brains a jar of olives. Pegerty and I had fun finding weird things to put by Mom’s plate…pickled watermelon rind, preserved kumquats.
My sister, who would have contributed to this post if her Internet connection hadn’t been down for the past week (shudder!), told me that the day they moved house was icy and cold. Northeastern Indiana winters are like that, yeah. Wrestling the refrigerator across the twenty foot space between houses stuck in her mind.
My mom was 8 1/2 months pregnant with yours truly. I joke that I held out for indoor plumbing. The old house had a working kitchen sink, but otherwise they relied on an outhouse that stood in the back yard till I was about eight. It was pretty cool not to have to go all the way into the house when my cousins and I were out there playing.
NPR’s Morning Edition recently did a fascinating series on siblings. One episode in particular struck a note with me, as it discusses various theories about how siblings turn out so different from each other. It’s kind of amazing that my sibs and I share so much. Their little nuclear family was purring along just fine–they were 11, 9 and 8–by the time I came along. When they were little, Dad worked in a factory and Mom stayed home. By the time I was in elementary school, Dad co-owned a service station with his brother and Mom was working as a school secretary and going to college to become a teacher, which she accomplished with flair.
I treasure my two brothers and sister almost beyond words. They are all creative and smart, and each of them nurtured in me an interest in an art form. Texaco is an amazing photographer and fine artist. Pegerty is a wonderful writer and sketcher who spent a lot of time playing teacher with me. Brains took his music seriously, exploring lesser known bands and instilling in me the importance of buying and appreciating albums rather than relying on number one hits.
You’d think we’d be more different from each other than we are. I guess the most obvious thing is that they all had kids and I didn’t. But there’s something substantial at the core that we all share. I think we approach others with kindness, and that probably comes from our smart funny mother and our witty sociable father.
So the Christmas season starts for me today. It’s December 3rd, and I guess it’s the day my family gives thanks for each other and for what our parents were able to build for us and in us.
As my mother’s been known to say over the years, “Aren’t we lucky?”