My little Gekko (of PJ Mask notoriety: Gekko, Cat Boy, and Owlette). Around his knee is a taped piece of cardboard that prevented his knee from bending properly. He proudly wore it for the 24 hours I was there, except when sleeping, calling out “Gekko knee! Gekko knee! Gekko knee! Gekko knee!” Imagination, make-believe, and creativity are this one’s names. Perhaps we will be writing stories together someday, that the bigger Little will illustrate.
I’m spending Christmas at a friend’s wee place on the edge of Hood Canal on the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympics are hidden today, but were sparkling when I arrived yesterday after crossing Puget Sound on the ferry from the Emerald City with the Cascades as backdrop.
After dropping my family off at the airport the night before, with dinner at Chuck’s before that. (Word today has it that Adrian did take off the cape to sleep, but not the cuffs, and donned it again up awakening.)
Today, Christmas, I reluctantly got dressed at noon and went for a two and a half mile hike at Twanoh State Park next door.
As I walked through the deep damp wood, I realized this is probably the first Christmas of my life I haven’t at least talked to my mother by phone. It feels strange. My mind drifted back to the letters my father wrote to her during the war. So long ago. My children are older than they were then.
When I got back to the couch, I looked them up. Christmas is such a time of nostalgia. It’s what makes it special and, for so many whose present doesn’t measure up to the past, sad. My next writing project is to do something with these letters and the story of a family separated by a war. All of them missing each other. They are all gone now, and I miss them.
December 25, 1942
Ann Arbor, Michigan
(My father was home in Ann Arbor from NYC where he was in officer training; his love was at her home in Tennessee.)
Merry Christmas, Stellajoe. I tried to call you this afternoon but the operator said that it wouldn’t go through for 3 hours because of over crowded lines so I waxed patriotic & cancelled it. I would liked to have talked to you & wished you a Merry Christmas. I wish I could celebrate it with you. I hope that I can the next one. I hope that the war will be over. I hope that you’ll love me as much as I do you. For if you do your name won’t be English.
Christmas 1943 they had been married for nearly a month and were living in Texas together. They did not yet know that in two weeks he would get overseas orders, something they didn’t think was going to happen at all. But his sister, a nurse already stationed in Italy, wrote to them. And they wrote to his parents.
December 26, 1943
Dear George and Stellajoe,
Another Christmas has come and gone. May we not be separated for another! Everything possible was done to make the day pleasant but nothing could quite eliminate that feeling of loneliness.
Love and best wishes to you both, Helen
Christmas Day 1943
We have had a very nice Christmas. Can’t say that I don’t miss being home, because I do. But if we have to be away, me and wife couldn’t have done better than to be married.
I hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season. It would be nice if we could all be together in one place place, but it is good that a few of us at least could be together.
How much we’ve enjoyed your fruit cake, cookies and jam. We’ve been rationing them so they wouldn’t be all eaten at one meal. Thanks so much for sending them.
Thanks too for the wedding gift. Do you mind if we save it for a while until we can buy something we’ll need? It’s too hard to know what to buy now – when we think we might have to be moving around.
Christmas night, 1944
Near Paris, France
In a way it’s a shame that the weather was arranged as it was. Yesterday the Air Forces were every way hammering the jerry. And I presume the same was true today. The war reached a peak of fury right on Christmas. Not a pleasant Christmas for those doing the fighting. And even less so for the jerrys. But I’m not wasting any sympathy on them, even on Christmas day.
This abnormal life – such as being away on Christmas – sometimes gets me down. And it’s then that I thank God that I have the love of my wife, of my family, and family background to fall back on. I suppose it’s sort of like a religion. I feel so sorry for those who can’t have memories and visions of a future to live on. Homesickness, and an inability to tell right from wrong, is the inevitable result. That has taught me to be more tolerant of waywardness than I ever was before. War is a terrible thing, and that is one of its worst features.
I was hoping to write you a long and interesting letter, but I just am not in the proper mood. But I can tell you this: I love you, dear wife. My Christmas was much happier because I have you to love. I love you wherever you are and wherever I am! Next Christmas I hope we’ll be together, and every Christmas thereafter.
December 25, 1945
Well, Christmas is almost over. Like I wrote mom, we haven’t had it half bad here. Christmas was a very welcome and happy holiday. But even so, I’ve spent most of my time thinking about and remembering Christmases past. I can almost see what’s going on each hour at home. And the rest of the time I’ve been dreaming of Christmas next year and the years after that. That’s a bit different because you’re in those dreams and Christmas will be our own.
Merry Christmas, Mama and Daddy. I hope you are together again forever and with the family you loved so well.
Apple, Apple geniuses, Apple Store, child computer geniuses, computer geek, foreign languages, grandchildren, learning a foreign language, MacBook Air, new computer, post-millennials, second languages, technology, technophobia, xenoglossophobia
I bought a new laptop last week. The woman who assisted in the Seattle store was nearly my age, as rare in an Apple store as in Trader Joe’s. She obviously knew the language or she wouldn’t have been there, but she didn’t flaunt it like the youngsters do. She probably still remembers the foreign language she learned in high school too. Some people just have an affinity. Also she and her four sisters shop at HUBBUB every year, which gave us common ground.
I bought a new laptop last week. Tammy, who assisted me in the Seattle store, was nearly my age, as rare in an Apple Store as in Trader Joe’s. She obviously knew the language or she wouldn’t have been there, but she didn’t flaunt it like the youngsters do. She probably still remembers the foreign language she learned in high school too.
Two days later, I dropped off the newby―still sealed in the box―and my “old” computer at the Tacoma store for data transfer. I have never been able to bring myself to pay someone to clean my house, but I had no trouble paying someone to transfer data, which is probably a lot easier than cleaning house. Kind of like using a roomba to vacuum, I expect: just plug it in, push a button, and let it do its thing; but I wasn’t going to go there. I had xenoglossophobia too. (Yep, there really is a word for fear of foreign languages; and it’s a lot more interesting than “technophobia.”)
The pony-tailed guy who helped me was snippy. He was working with a table load of elders and was probably skating rapidly toward the end of his last nerve. Whoever told me the transfer would take 48 hours, he said, should not have. “We always say 72 hours.” (Maybe it takes longer in Tacoma than in Seattle.)
Twenty-four hours later I got a message saying it was ready. Which meant I could pick it up on the way to Seattle to spend a solo overnight with the Littles, rather than on the way home. I signed up for a 90-minute “open studio” workshop to ask a bunch of questions I’ve had for a long time followed by a 60-minute camera class cuz why not as long as I was there.
Emily was a sweet young thing and talked to me like we belonged to the same club, even though she was better at foreign languages. She and I both commiserated with Mary, whom it seemed had lost 1000s of photos because her grandson told her she could remove them from her phone after she put them in the Cloud. (iCloud, I learned from Tammy, is backup, not storage.) Smarty pants millennial, busted! Emily helped her remember, though, that he had moved them to Google Photos! And there they all were. Phew! I felt her pain, and her relief.
In the next workshop, Kyle was like a robot programmed to work with stupid old people without letting them get on his last nerve. Even though every person told him they take a lot of photos, he started at the very beginning and stuck with his automaton script. Maybe it’s a gender thing, rather than an age thing.
In three visits to the Apple Store, I observed that all the people at the workshop tables were late silent generation and early boomers. Gen X and xennials wouldn’t be caught dead, I don’t suppose; and millennials speak technology as a first language.
Enter the Littles, ages four and two (post-millennials) who came from the womb speaking technology. After the moms left, we had movie/pizza night. Elliot was in charge of the movie. They don’t have a TV, but as a special treat, the DVD was cast from the laptop to a stand alone monitor they inherited (E’s mom taught me the word “cast” and how to do it when I got a new generation flatscreen TV and wanted to watch Netflix on it). Elliot knows all about casting and pausing, and at one point decided—having seen the movie before—to skip several scenes and deftly made it happen.
The next morning they got more screen time before breakfast and getting dressed (it was 5:10am), which, Elliot informed could happen on “staying-in” day—i.e. the weekend. I didn’t know the truth of that as their screen time is very limited, but whatever.
Later in the morning, the moms still gone, things started getting a bit out of hand and I let them have screen time again. (I told them it was a special Gigi treat lest they think they could get away with it another day.) Adrian decided he was in charge this time, and opened the kid’s shows they can watch, picked Wild Kratts (my personal favorite), after ejecting the previous night’s DVD from the drive and returning it to its case, plugged in headphones for whatever reason, skipped the introduction, changed his mind and picked a different show, paused it while I changed his diaper. Did I mention he is two?
I’m back at home now trying to figure out how use the Photos program on my new Mac, having decided, finally, to put on my big girl pants and let go of the no-longer-supported iPhoto and whining to myself about it looking different, while grumbling about the changes in my WordPress blog site.
In the new year I AM going to start using Instagram, after I figure out how. And I’m considering hiring someone (whom I know from last spring’s Whidbey writing retreat and who advertises as “non-geeky, friendly help”) to create a better website for me. I also learned from her blog not to switch to the new WordPress until they work out the bugs. I switched back to classic layout. I figured out how to do it myself.
Meanwhile, I’m pretty excited to have this sweet one-and-a-half pound space grey MacBook Air that cost about as much as a hover craft (purchased from the sale of my 20-year-old Honda) and won’t bombard me, at least for a while, with messages that my memory is nearly gone. At least my computer memory.
#adventurelog, A Place at the Table, Adventure Log, Catherine Kapikian, Celo Community, Dupont State Forest, grandchildren, Hooker Falls, Lake Johnson, Little River, North Carolina, One World Everybody Eats Network, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh NC, sunrises, sunset, Toe River, traveling across America, Triple Falls, Weaverville NC
I traveled across North Carolina this month on the blue highways (well, highway is stretching it for some of the roads), from Asheville to Raleigh via Burnsville and Sparta (near the Virginia border). I visited family, longtime friends, and saw beautiful countryside. You can read the words and see more photos on my post “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Here is the photo journal.