H. Neal Glanville: Carpe diem, and stay to the light
December 17, 2010
On Saturday, my twin girls are celebrating another milestone birthday.
Well, it's not actually a milestone for them but for me, that I've lived long enough to see them and their sister and brother mature into adults any parent would be proud of and might pay money for, in case someone needs an older child stand-in for the holidays.
This year, as in years past, I shall pass on a story to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so they will know a bit more about their respective parents and their weak-sided grandfather.
I'm reasonably certain we had a Christmas tree, instead of the occasional rock, chunk of sagebrush or the biggest tumbleweed we could find, the year of the Chinese oven.
How it was decided, or how it got to our house on Breeze Street is beyond me, as I had no idea this childish gift from Chinese Communist Headquarters was hiding in our basement until I was asked to retrieve it.
As I emerged from the light of a 20-watt bulb, pushing this box up the stairs, I noticed strange wiggly characters on the side I was grunting against.
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As I gained the light of the kitchen, I realized the characters were Chinese letters.
"Not to worry" the normal side said. "There'll be directions in English on the inside."
As I opened the box and 40 bazillion pieces/parts went tumbling across the kitchen floor, I looked inside and there glued to the bottom of the box, for safety I guess, was a chunk of paper the size of the maps we got in National Geographic.
Yup, they were the directions.
No matter which way I turned the paper, even when I tried reading it in the mirror upside down and backwards, the directions were still in Chinese.
I started hearing the voice of my brother Scott, the jackrabbit, humming "you're going to be in trouble" over and over.
I pushed the empty box into the corner, with the picture of the completed project staring at me and nailed, yes nailed, the picturesque Chinese directions to the opposite side of the corner.
I sorted all the pieces, parts, and chunks of cardboard into separate piles and started putting this Chinese plot against the American way of life together.
I must have blacked out during construction because I have no memory of how long this project from hell took, and in the end I had no cardboard left and only a pocket full of piece parts.
The girls, Ericca, Eileen and their little sister, Melissa, went nuts over their new oven and wanted to bake something right away.
They did, and as a weak-sided father, I ate it. I'm fairly certain it was much better than their "Tuna Surprise," which was soon to come.
That afternoon, as their baby brother, Kris, crawled into the bottom of the oven to stay warm, the four of us raided their mom's pantry of all the Jell-O we could find and went through town sprinkling all the snow piles with pieces parts and the colorful Jell-O.
I don't put Chinese ovens together anymore, but I still sprinkle Jell-O whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Happy birthday, girls, and Merry Christmas to all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Carpe diem, and stay to the light.
Hey, you be careful out there.