Sunday, November 18, 2012

The color of 2:34 PM

batman, climbing our tree

We put our tree up today. Orange, Green, White, Blue, Purple, Pink, Red, Brown; the labels on the stems, slid in slots, bottom to top, making it easier. I never remember the order, so it's a process of measuring them and hoping you get the longest branch poking out. Last year, we wizened up and wrote hieroglyphs on the box---OGWBPPkRB. I still had to measure the black stems and scribbled in pencil a Bk in place. I miss real trees.

Stringing the lights is my least favorite part, but always on me to lay them in coverage across the green, adding as needed to fill in dark places. Christmas music is playing from the CD player upstairs---Taylor Swift, Chipmunks, Alabama, Bing. Harry Connick. The lights blink this year---something new to delight the boys. Earlier they played among the empty plastic storage boxes, building fort walls and draping blankets, creating concealment.

I am balled tight in the now vacant eaves, pulling the darkness around me. Just a faint hint of muted sunlight,  from the corner, breaks the black. The smell of wood is intoxicating this far back, I am between studs, my shoulders against the dry wall and knees in my chest, stilling my breathing to a whisper of broken air.

Hear only inches away their glee. My children's shrill voices, the stomp of their feet. My heart is a thoroughbred on the far side of the finish line. I trace the wood grain of the  floor with a finger, rough and unfinished. Press an ear to the wall when quiet comes. Where are they?

I scratch a bit, my fingernails on the wall, the boards. Can they hear it over the Christmas music? Do they even know I am here. Stifling the desire to yell, I focus again on breathing. The darkness is complete, my hand over the little light to see if I can feel air. It blinks. Blinks. Blinks.

'Dad?" they scream and I pull tighter into a ball.

A hard thunk blasts down the crawl space, a square of light laid on its side. A head.

'Dad are you in here?' he cant see more than a foot in front of him, into the depths.

I want to giggle. I want to be found. I want to stay hidden.

I bark and begin crawling out of the corner towards him and he jerks his head out of view, then pokes it back in. Laughing at the fear that gripped him seconds before.

'I found you,' he taunts, 'That means it is your turn to be it.'

'Fine, count to a hundred?'

'Yes.'

'One. Two. Skip a few. Ninety Nine. One Hundred.'

'DAD!'

'Oh, okay. One. Two. Three...'

My boys and wife run to hide, in faith I will seek them. I will always seek them.

Tree lights reflect on the window. On the black smile of the TV. Blink---red, green, blue, yellow. Counting time in color, just like me.

63 comments:

Lorraine said...

That's wonderful, you had me chuckling all the way, feels like Christmas, I love it :)

the walking man said...

Dude the whole Christmas thing from trellis to trolley is so foreign to my adult experience I honestly did not understand one thing you said here.

Whatever it was though I hope when you're all done with it you can look back and say it was a good one.

MorningAJ said...

You put up your tree already? Please tell me this is fiction. (Says the woman who just took a break from present wrapping!)

Is it too early to wish you Merry Christmas?

Brian Miller said...

might have been a hard turn there after the decorating into our game of hide n seek...

Brian Miller said...

AJ...we did, yesterday...sick i know, but the boys wanted to, T wanted to...and we had a free day yesterday...figuring i was out numbered we went for it...ha...it is up and blinking next to me right now...

izzy said...

Why is it you cannot get a wonderfully scented Fir tree?
I admit we don't always put up a tree
(or much in the way of decoration)Yet I do sometimes splurge and buy a tree
or cut a small one myself. I have bought potted ones and replanted them in spring; but that can be tricky. SMILES!

ayala said...

Christmas coming early :) but the boys and wife wanted it so good for you.... this way the fun lasts longer. We used to build forts with sheets and pillows when we were little, it was fun :) happy Sunday, enjoy it with your beautiful family.

Secret Agent Woman said...

It's only mid-November!

Daniel said...

I sense a bit of melancholy behind the joy of putting up the tree and being with family. Hope you find your smile my friend.

Gloria said...

absolutely nice, heard they call Dad! isnt nice?? is the best:)

Gloria said...

I remember a song that said "teach your children well" (really old ha!) you really do and T of course:)

Susan said...

Thanks for inviting me into your home. I was so relieved that you were playing a game and not trying on a Sylvia Plath moment! I think it is true that hiding heightens the senses, that gaming symbolizes how we live our lives. How alive this forest and all its trees.

Mary said...

Sounds like mission accomplished and some fun, Brian. Glad you and family got tree up and decorated.So you have to put it together every year. Yikes. I leave mine put together and just have a spare corner of my basement, and after the holidays it will rest there until next year. My tree IS in place already, but I will decorate after Thanksgiving. I liked the part about 'seek and find.' I am sure you always will.

manicddaily said...

Wonderful.

I know that feeling hiding.

And there is that terrific interplay of father/sons - trust and just that edge of what he's up to now -that is so magical. (A bit different relationship than with the mother I think - )

TREE!!!!! In November!!! I'm still in August somewhere although it's gotten unaccountably cold out. k.

Anne said...

When you have little ones you should start as early as you please. These moments are magical, the best of your life and they should be stretched out because once these moments pass they do not come again. Enjoy my friend, enjoy.

Pat Hatt said...

haha damn the tree is already up
You are quicker than a butt sniffing pup
And hahaha that must have been grand
To run about your land
And hide and seek
I'm sure your gawker self never ever would peek haha

Pauline said...

one of the best Christmas tree stories out there!

Gail said...

What an absolutely wonder picture you have painted with your words.

I miss that feeling, the joy of a child's Christmas. My ornaments have not seen the light of day for many seasons.

Thank you for reminding of the joy.

CiCi said...

I say go for it, wife and kids excited about putting up the tree, glad you did. Jumping in with joy brings out the child in us, what fun.

Dave King said...

Superb, such an njoyment. Thank you.

Heaven said...

I don't have the energy to put up the Christmas Tree yet, so good for you to see it bright and blinking.

For a moment, I couldn't see why you are balled tight, you described the moments very well. But I see that its a hide and seek game... its fun at that age to play ~

Wishing you Happy Sunday ~

DJan said...

Oh, Brian. What a guy you are. And what a wonderful dad...

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I could feel your excitement as you hid! Love it!

Claudia said...

oh heck..my stomach turned into a knot when i came to that part where you hid, afraid if they would find you cause when i read there came this memory back when i played hide and seek as a very little kid with the nuns at my mom's workplace and i hid in a drawer & once it closed, there was only darkness, i was afraid like never before in my life that no one would ever find (or even search for) me... ugh..sorry...yeah..we all want to be found and hope that someone searches for us... smiled at the tree...we always have a real one, cut it two days before christmas, put it up one day before or even on christmas eve..and then the whole house smells of forest... love this..

Myrna R. said...

You caused me a little stress here. I'm totally unprepared for Thanksgiving, and Christmas was something really far away. 'Til now. Ha.

Nice of you to give in to the kids' eagerness for Christmas. And the game of hide 'n' seek - my favorite. And no, we never stop seeking our loved ones. Happy Sunday.

Annmarie Pipa said...

how fun! and fun to imagine you guys enjoy each other.
I have heard it said you can tell a lot about a person by what he does with a ball of tangled Christmas lights...

hedgewitch said...

There's an awful lot up in that crawl space, and blinking in the various lights. This is one of those pieces of yours that make me realize how deep your well is, and how resonant your voice, even though there is nothing probably more different than our two very foreign lives--really fine writing brian.

Alice Audrey said...

Aw, sweet. But you're already doing Christmas? I'm barely over Halloween.

Laurie Kolp said...

This made me smile... so much fun. You are a good dad, Mr. Miller.

Luke Prater said...

Great use of colour.. v nice. Colour always works magic in a piece, don'tcha think?

Leovi said...

Yes, fantastic, Batman in the Christmas tree ...

farawayinthesunshine said...

Those of kinds memories are the best ones to remember. Your children will thank you later, you and Tara are good parents to create them this way...Christmas tree hanging + hide and seek games = Awesome

Enjoy your Sunday with family :-)

Daydreamertoo said...

Awww... great fun. Precious.
Last year, I forgot to put the lights on first, we had lights but, all the wires showed...again. lol
Lovely family, lovely read :)

rosaria williams said...

Ah, the fun and the mess of putting up a tree if only for a few weeks, a tree that will pull us all together, all focused on the sharing, the celebrating, the remembering. I do miss those times when my kids were little and made forts with anything they could find.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Brain, dude, can I call you that? I tagged you with THE NEXT BIG THING meme over at my blog.

Monkey said...

miller...what a moment of bliss, thanks for the share :)

kj said...

whoa! what a slice of time alone and not alone!

but i have to say your mention of the tree sends me in a slight panic. every year i string the lights and every year one set blows out. every every every year. for 25 years. no matter what i do. no matter with new lights.

now mr. miller, i think it's important that you have the fresh scent of a christmas tree somewhere in your house. please assure me you will figure a way.

the tree is up for thanksgiving, yes?

love
kj

Margaret said...

My boys and wife run to hide, in faith I will seek them. I will always seek them.

How wonderful. I think just what your spirit needs right now. ...but before Thanksgiving? :)

and NOTHING could induce me to hide in our unfinished attic - yikes.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
Thanks,for sharing the image Of batman, climbing [y]our tree..."
and a moment:in your lives as you, so descriptively,[do] in your poetic words describe trimming your tree and playing hide and seek...with your family.
deedee :)

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

First I went to the artificial, then I went to pre-lit. I'm making it easier every time!

Glad you're enjoying some fun family games!

Tatius T. Darksong said...

must be getting close to Christmas sounds as if you're having fun. When you can enjoy your family and have such fun everyday is Christmas it seems.

Tina said...

I am so not ready...just taking one holiday at a time. I'll think about Christmas on Friday. Nice one, Brian.
Tina @ Life is Good
http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/

Tracie Skarbo said...

What a wonderful moment in time! May many more of these find their way into your life. :) By the way, Boney M has a wonderful Christmas Album.

flaubert said...

Oh, Brian this made me think of the days with my own daughter. I read this thinking of those wonderful Christmases when she was a little girl. Nice write and it sounds like such fun. I keep forgetting we are getting so close to the holidays, since no-one here celebrates Thanksgiving, it does seem odd to me still. We always have a roast chicken, so I consider it our silent away from home celebration.

Pamela

kaykuala said...

Brian,
The kids are having time of their life. Christmas comes early! That's a pretty big tree. You can certainly get lost in there. Hide and seek! wow..! Nicely!

Hank

Mama Zen said...

This really made me smile, Brian!

Tara Miller said...

Reading this with a big smile on my face. Love your re-telling but I thought as you transitioned into hide n seek that you were hiding balled in the dark corner due to the job of stringing lights....hee hee hee. ;) Love making these memories!

RMP said...

there is nothing like a good game of hide-and-seek. although I agree, you really need to work on your counting.

Rebecca S. said...

I confess, I like a real tree, too. Although, of course, you can't keep it, or the twinkling lights, up for as long.
I'm glad you will always seek your boys and your wife...that was sweet and heartening.

The Empress said...

My husband is always pushing to get the tree up asap. I just can't, it has to be after thanksgiving. My husband wants to do it while it still fits in his schedule.

Mama can't play that--has to be the day right after. IT MEANS SO MUCH to do it the day right after. Spend the whole day doing it--since I never do black friday shopping, etc. We can sit around, drink cocoa and get the tree up.

xo

JANU said...

Ah! festivities in the air. Family moment captured so well. Glad to be reading you again.
I have yet to start writing.
Keep up the spirit of Christmas.

Cloudia said...

"black smile of the TV"

Love visiting your mind :-)




Aloha from Honolulu
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Susan Deborah said...

Tree up already? Christmas in the air! I love this time of the year. Sometimes putting the tree up early ushers the Christmas spirit earlier than the usual and that is something beautiful, I reckon.

"I am dreaming of a white Christmas . . ."

Joy always,
Susan

Valerie said...

Ooooh I did enjoy this, Brian. Gone are the days of Christmas trees and twinkling lights... and the joy of seeing children's faces light up. I miss it.

Lolamouse said...

Okay, I'm starting to think that you either really do have Brian clones running around or else you use chemical means to stay awake 24/7 in order to accomplish everything you do! I just put away my Halloween decorations!!!

Grandmother said...

My favorite lines: in faith I will seek them. I will always seek them. It's such the truth of parenting- at any age I can say. Thank you for the glimpse into your family and you- sweet, deep, solid.

Sue said...

What an exquisitely beautiful piece, Brian. I love the ending best of all.

=)

She Writes said...

Oh, I love the lines about seeking them. Beautiful, Brian.

She Writes said...

PS Glad Jane isn't reading this. She is begging me to put up the tree :).

lori mcclure said...

Sweetness. Looking forward to decorating once we get back from T-day fun. I'm the light-stringer in our house. Can't wait to make some sweet memories of my own.

mywordwall said...

Oh, how sweet! I can almost hear your family's squeals of delight and the thundering little feet scurrying to the neatest hiding place. :-)

We used to have the ornamental Christmas Tree until it got too ratty and the children asked for a real tree because they want the smell of pine, among others.

my heart's love songs said...

one advantage to an artificial tree is that you CAN put it up a lot earlier. cherish these memories ~ they do last you a lifetime. {smile}

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Brian!

Syd said...

I can't do Christmas until early December. Gotta get through Thanksgiving first. You have kids though and it is really fun for them.