Mr. Claus and Me

I know Santa Claus, which I know sounds like a tall tale …

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I do not remember the moment I learned that the many Misters and Missuses Claus that we encountered in person or saw on TV were “not real”; the fact that there was no “a-ha” moment leads me to assume that I never bought the story anyway. Maybe so, maybe not.

There is at least one photo of my sister and me in a “portrait with Santa,” and I remember the typical session: I knew, just knew, that this fellow was not Santa and I did not feel betrayed by this. I did not know why he claimed to be Santa. I knew it was a guy overheating indoors in a snowsuit for reasons related to “things grown-ups do.” It did not make much sense to me, to be a grown-up who wore a snowsuit indoors, but I did not envy adults the many things that they did, said, claimed, acted as if, and always eventually emphatically insisted made sense despite the absence of any evidence of sense.
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Happy Birthday, Michelle!

My earliest memory happens to be the moment I met my baby sister, Michelle. As today is her 51st birthday, that means I have fifty-one years of conscious (and semi-conscious) memories as of today or the next few days.

The most important part of all the above is this: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHELLE!
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Father’s Day Memories: Across the River

The memories below first appeared on this website a few years ago when my dad was still alive. He thanked me on Facebook at the time, even though he did not remember some of the details contained in its paragraphs.

My father, Bob Aldrich, died over a year ago on May 10, 2020, in the first great wave of Covid-19 deaths in the United States. He was 84 and had lived a complicated life in which kindness and his family—my mom, my sister, and me—served as his emotional North Star. (Past a certain age, seven maybe, no life is uncomplicated.) His death was preventable, and my fury at this has protected me from my grief from then till now, because no one volunteers to feel grief. Well, I never have, not yet anyway.

I campaigned to include his name among the ever-lengthening list of those lost to Covid, as has my sister. Our parents would have done no less for us, of that I am sure.

I awoke this morning, Father’s Day 2021, with the sense that this is the first Father’s Day without my dad, but of course that is incorrect: it’s the second one. That is what I mean about being “protected from grief” by my anger. Grief with anger is merely anger; but grief on its own can feel like a new version of sadness made brand-new and fashioned just for me each morning. I had not volunteered for that, but life signs us up for grief the day we are born.

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Some memories are of photographs and not of the incident itself, but some memories of an incident feel like they are a memory of a photo, with the details so clear and specific and accessible. In one of my memories of my dad, it feels like I could count the rocks in the creek bed if I would just take the time.
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