Christmas Back in Dodge

Why I’m Keeping My Mouth Shut For Christmas

It felt strange, to speak up and make my presence known, seemed tantamount to talking to the TV, yet, I forced myself to say “that’s my stop, it’s after the A&W“.

To which the copper-haired girl turned her shiny black cat lady sunglasses towards me, and I felt exposed. With her alabaster skin and the stud in her lip and her worn leather jacket.

The older women had got on the bus a few stops before and seemed agitated from the moment she sat down. She was going somewhere, with her map in hand, headscarf tied tightly under her chin, to stop the wind from destroying her carefully coiffed hair.

With broken English, she taped the copper-haired girl’s shoulder, and asked: “can you help“, pointing to her map…”stop number“?

To which proceeded a 15 minutes or so conversation, with another female passenger getting in on the exchange, and together they began to decipher where she was going, and what she required.

Alas, it was determined it was the Library, which was my stop, or else I would have not said a word. The funny thing is, after all that, she didn’t get off at the stop, she was doing a dry run and just wanted to know where she would have to go.

Good idea, that, a dry run.

Christmas in the 70's

Goober and I at the Homestead – early 70’s

You know, I’ve danced around it all this year successfully, usually, and if U.S. politics was mentioned at all at family gatherings, it was only to my sister. So I’ll call this post, perhaps, a dry run. Work out the details. And please feel free to chime in too, with any advice you may have to share.

Because, once again, we’ll be gathered on that big old front porch back in Dodge at the Homestead for Christmas, my Dad and I smokin’ our Pall Malls, not saying that man’s name.

He’s in his 70’s now and the warmer clime of North Carolina suites him I see, as he only ever got more cranky with our weird Southwestern Ontario winters.

It’s because of him I’ve tried to understand what exactly happened in the U.S., and why so many voted for that pompous, misogynist, er, person.

Nope, they don’t see it that way though. The last time I did talk about him to Dad, was October of 2015 when Dad said he liked his plain talk, and that he doesn’t care about whether he’s politically correct, and that he wouldn’t be easy to buy off. Ahem.

Back then it seemed the man had no hope in Hades, my response though was to remind him that there were more advantages to the Presidency than merely monetary, for a man who already has everything. But he just smirked and that was that.

I haven’t said a word to him since on the topic about it.

MsB, my step-Mom, being deeply Christian, says grace for every single meal she eats, either to herself or out loud, and I think that is beautiful. In a response to a question of a friend of my sisters concerning him, all she said was “I wish people would just give him a chance“. She is sweet and kind and open-minded and loves my Dad with all her heart, and I would love her just for that alone.

Dad was not always especially religious and didn’t go to church when Mom was alive. But, things change. He’s also recently discovered the evils of alcohol due to a prostate that decided a while back it didn’t want to let him pee when he drinks any liquor, including beer, so in a way, North Carolina has been slowly draining all the Canadian out of him (I hope not all).

I see my Dad as kind of the atypical Trump supporter, though, and probably the least understood. Everyone seems to lump the whole bunch together, but that completely ignores those more silent, understated voters out there who made it happen.

The ones’ who are not especially racist, nor white trash, or any of the convenient stereotypes, they are just average Americans who, like my Dad, were tired of being told by snotty liberals how to talk, think, act and what prejudices they could and could not have.

grandma-mom-grandpa.jpg

Grandma, Mom and Grandpa at the Homestead at Christmas, late 1950’s

History may not repeat but it can instruct.

Timothy Snyder

My problem is that sometimes I don’t listen, I just get started on some tangent, and once, after I’d gone off on one of my monologues, he’s like, “Powla (an approximation of his drawl), have you ever considered becoming an e-van-gel-icawl preacher”?

This year I caught him staring, at Easter I think, with this weird look in his eyes, no doubt wondering if I planned to pounce on him, wary. But I didn’t. The man frustrates me like no other human on earth, and I don’t know how you can look so much like someone and be so completely opposite.

I remember loud shouting matches with him after I turned 16, and Mom says he turned to her one day and said, what happened to her?

Indeed!

I can still see the two of us, on the bronze age carpeted hallway that lay between our individual spaces in the morning, he in the bathroom snorting with his poorly healed broken nose, like some rutting pig, and I in my bedroom raising the volume of the radio up more and more, to drown him out. And then I’d hear POWLA, TURN THAT SHaT DOWN.

We battled out our own WWIII on that ugly gold 1980’s carpet.

I respect my Father, and his opinions, misguided though I believe them sometimes to be. He knows I am an idealist, and that I am as informed as him, after all, I inherited my news junkie traits from his side. And he knows I have been often disappointed in the reality I saw instead. Even in him, and listening to him try to explain to me why he was not racist when I knew full well what he meant, but how do I explain to him that the definition changed?

His best friend when he was in the National Guard, in the early 1960’s, was a Black Man. A man he thought of as a good friend, and he could drink with him on base (at Fort Bragg), but not off. My Great Grandma, his Mom’s Mom, her best friend was a Black Woman and she could sip tea and shoot the breeze with her on the front porch, but society back then said she could not invite her in for lunch. That was his reality growing up. That was the south of his youth.

My nieces with Irish at the Homestead, Christmas 2013

My Dad was not a freedom fighter, and not out there with placards, not marching on Washington for equal rights for all, as most people were not.

Both sides in this I think are being manipulated, truth be told. The media as much a victim as the average Joe, like my Dad and I. Feeling as though the things we want are so different that we can no longer see through to the other side. The waters have become so murky that both sides have difficulty any more determining fact from fiction. The spin of late is making us all dizzy.

That is the manipulation. By whom? Again, murky. Everyone is yelling, and no one is listening anymore.

For me though, the reason I don’t want to discuss any of this at Christmas, is I don’t want it to access those things I love. Those divisions are not welcome there, and I will not allow them any more of a foothold into the sanctity of my home and family, and idealist that I am, love trumps hate.

Plus, Grandma always said “if you can’t say anything nice, best to say nothing at all“, sometimes.

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