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On the Tenth Day of Christmas the whole world went silent. The scholar in the basement stumbled upstairs into the kitchen to brew his coffee. He solemnly declared that the house had become boring. He was right.

The traveling tornado brothers left after breakfast, marking the official end of the festivities portion of this holiday. I fell into a coma-like nap. The Muse reclaimed her sewing room. Quilting subsumed her.

The transition out feels every bit as trying as the sudden transition in. A long week cringing in the usually shocking noise generated by two exuberant boyz and their struggling dad followed by an almost total silence, as if the place had been suddenly suspended in the vacuum of space. The washing machine started grinding the first of many loads as we prepared bedding for another over-long storage. I’d vacuum later in the following week, much of the air had already been sucked out of the place when family departed.

My favorite rope remains tied in the upper reaches of the beech tree. Ronnie volunteered to climb up there before they left, but it was raining and in that moment I imagined myself plenty agile enough to scramble up there myself. I will haul out the extension ladder once the cold snap retreats. I’m not much of a tree climber anymore.

Their presence was their present to me and The Muse. That got us up and humming throughout their visit. A dry thump would announce one or the other boyz’ awakening, followed shortly thereafter with some uncommonly loud humming or singing or simply screaming at the ceiling, or so it seemed. I’d cringe a while before reminding the offender that the neighbors couldn’t quite hear him. Then he’d seem to notice that he had been occupying way more than his fair share of the broadcast spectrum and pipe down.

Most mornings had been noisy. Rose the Spinster Cat hid beneath the bed for the duration, creeping out from under only after the big bedroom door was securely closed. I had to smuggle her outside for her rounds, then, often vainly fail to coax her back inside what I’m confident she experienced as mere bedlam. Sounded like Christmas to me.

Real Christmas might include the much-touted silence of snowfall resoundingly punctuated with the noises of living; screams of both joy and dread, with anger, frustration, and the odd Ninja scream thrown in like so many sprinkles on the cookie. This introvert needs this strong-armed extraction from his hermitage into the season.

Before he left, Ronnie told everyone’s fortune. Taking my hand into his, he quietly began tracing and naming the lines on my palm. He predicted that I would have two children, and I have. He even accurately named one of the first initials involved. He also predicted a long life, which I already have had. Old people are easy to predict for, since they have already probably been everywhere and already done everything; any odd thing said might well prove true. He ended the reading by squeezing my palm into a butt-like configuration and announcing that I was certain to be a bum. “The hand never lies,” he proclaimed. “The hand never lies.”

Everyone in the family seems destined to grow up to be a bum. Ashes to ashes. To a ten year old’s perspective, almost everything distills into a butt joke of some kind, even Christmas. Especially Christmas. This results in no sad state of affairs.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas the morning went still and silent, and a disquieting peace descended over the place. It felt more a stunned silence than a reverent one, and I’ll require a few days to make much sense of it. By then, the Epiphany will have come, and wiser perspectives might prevail.

I only know for certain that I’m sure to become a bum someday.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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