I don’t want to trade

by Penrod

“The real game is the game you’re in.”

I remember sitting in the living room at our beautiful little piano picking out the melody line of carols from a little booklet of Christmas songs. On top of the piano to the left on cotton snow sat a little Lincoln log cabin with a small light inside. I put this together every Christmas.

It was cold and dark outside, plenty of snow. It was warm in the house—the oil furnace under the floor kicked out heat. Mother was busy in the kitchen or in the dining room. Dad might be sitting in his arm chair planning to go out in a little while. I “played” the piano in this way many Christmas seasons. I had not heard of Advent, but I sure enjoyed December—the Christmas season. One December my big brothers, Bob and Reg, were in Korea. I knew they were safe because of Mother’s prayers. They were safe even if the worst should happen.

My Decembers blend together in memory. There are memories of different events and different presents; of particular moments of joy and satisfaction. I remember these times with the overlay in my mind’s eye of sitting at the piano tapping out the tunes. I had a rich fantasy life—I created stories in my mind in which I was the hero—the triumphant star of the football or basketball team. Because of my prowess and my virtue and my goodness, I was loved by the girl of my dreams.

I’m blessed to now know Decembers were and are Advent. But, subsequent Decembers are no more richer, nor more full of Christmas because of that knowledge. I wouldn’t trade my memories with some other kid who knew about the four Sundays of Advent. I wouldn’t trade with the richest kid in town or the kid having the most exciting adventure or living in the most exotic place in the world—though I loved to imagine such things.

I had the best mother in the world. I had friends and fun and a good school in a good town—no need to trade in actual fact. I guess I’m not a trader. I don’t even want to trade with myself for the Christmases of my youth. I can experience those Christmases as I write this. There is plenty more I could tell—but, it may not be welcome. By now you are remembering your experiences and are becoming disinterested in mine because you don’t want to trade either. May it be so.

P.S. I haven’t heard from the kids who are taking over this journal. No matter. The current crew never invited me to write or gave me the time of day either. An invitation is not a criterion for me to send this stuff in. Nonetheless, I think this journal may become worthwhile—might “amount to something,” as my dad used to say—now that it is in competent hands. — Penrod

Penrod says that, in thinking about him, one should think first of Booth Tarkington's Penrod, the boy writer, and then of the mighty pen of Martin Luther with its power like unto the rod of Aaron.

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