On Tuesday, I stopped my story at the point I arrived home on Christmas Eve with my harness boots in the oversized boot box. At the age of 17, I felt as if I had spent a lot of money on myself at Christmas, but I hadn’t cheaped out on my family so I was okay.
My mom was excited for me, even though she did eventually ask how much they cost. My sister thought they were cool, too. She had bounced in when she heard Mom and me and a box lid dropping. Dad, though, didn’t budge from the living room — not yet, at least.
I put the boots on and stood two inches taller. Wow! I felt powerful with such beauty on my feet and my new stature. We laughed at how much taller I was now than Mom and my sister. Dad was still in the living room.
Much to my mom’s surprise, I pulled the boots off and set them on the chair next to me. “Why did you do that?” Mom asked.
“I want to show you how I make shoes look really good at the store. Mom, let me use your matches.”
“Mike, what are you going to do?” Her reticence to hand over the matches spoke the rest of her mind.
“Don’t worry. I do this all the time.” I took the matches from her, smiling with my superior knowledge.
Now, I moved one of my boots to the plastic holiday tablecloth, printed with resplendent poinsettia leaves, holly swags, and golden candles. Since two neighbor ladies were coming by, it was one of probably two times in the year when the table was not piled with just paper and junk. Except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe my birthday, we never ate at the table. Fortunately, Mom hadn’t done any more than spread the cloth before I came in with the harness boots.
I twisted the little key on the can of the brown Kiwi tin of shoe wax. I picked up the matches. Mom’s voice was more insistent now. “Mikey, what are you doing?”
“I do this at least once a week. My manager does it, too.”
I took a short, forceful stroke with the match on the roughened bottom of the matchbook. We smelled the strong little scent of sulphur as I let the match burn a second before lowering it to the shoe polish.
The polish, just as in the store, gently ignited, and a small crater of molten wax slowly formed as I explained. “When the wax melts, we buff it into the leather and it really protects the boots and makes them shine way more.”
I was looking at Mom. Horror punctuated her whole affect as she screamed, “Mike!”
I quickly snapped my attention to her focus and saw a lake of fiery wax quickly disintegrating the flimsy, festive plastic tablecloth, revealing the formica table top underneath. Actually, it wasn’t too fiery but definitely spreading.
I sprung to action, ran to the sink about five feet away, cupped my hands under the running water and started throwing meaningless splashes onto the “conflagration.”
Dad appeared. He plunked the lid on the tin of wax, and my mom ripped the melting tablecloth off and stomped out the smoldering flame.
My mom looked at me. “Why in the hell would you do that?”
“It never did that at the store, Mom. I’m so sorry.”
Dad didn’t even look at me. In his almost monotone voice of disgust, he stated, “Dumbass. You don’t use new tins of polish at the store.”
Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Even though the boots were unscathed, they wouldn’t be helping my stature any more that day.
My mom yelled a fair amount, but she and dad both were really laid back. Dad rarely yelled. My mom looked at me and started laughing. I have no idea what my expression must have been.
Dad touched the top of the tin can to make sure it wasn’t too hot. With the same tone as before — he had a wry sense of humor — he said, “You should have enough melted polish for your shoes.”
There was. They looked pretty damn good when I finished — scant redemption for destroying my mom’s special plastic Christmas tablecloth for entertaining. Fortunately, I think they came three to a pack, so Christmas Eve was back on.
One of my favorite Christmas memories. Enjoy the next few days, whatever religion or celebration you may choose to experience.
Far beyond that, celebrate relationships. Celebrate yourself, your truth, by being you and letting that wonderful Heart core out into the world. No shows, no desire to impress, no harness boots — just have fun.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!