Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Our home burned down, just before my 5th birthday.
It was a pink trailer, in a park in Sherwood, Oregon.
We weren't at home at the time thank goodness.
My brother and I were at my grandparents house, and my mother was at a rehearsal for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and my father was working the night-shift at Dammasch State Hospital, where the play was set, which was just a coincidence.
My parents came to pick us up the next day, and told me about the fire.
I remember thinking that this surely must be a joke, that it could not possibly be true.
This is one of the few memories I have of my parents together.
My birthday is January 12th, just after Christmas.
We lost everything in the fire.
I was most upset about my Christmas gifts, notably a Mrs. Beasley doll, just like the one that Buffy, on Family Affair had.
Later the firemen would give me a brand new one.
I still have her.
The fire destroyed everything, except for my mother's hope chest, which was later sanded down and used for a toy chest. Her wedding china, a set with pink roses and silver trim, from Wards, was inside.
My brother has the china.
As the following Christmas rolled around, I had a grave concern that we would not be able to have a tree, since our ornaments had burned the year before.
I'd made a giant paper Santa at school, which I hung up in the living-room with scotch-tape.
By this time, we were living in the same trailer park, again, this time in a larger trailer, that was yellow, and had three bedrooms.
My mother in all of her infinite resourcefulness, set about making decorations for the spindly noble fir, that we cut in the woods.
This being Oregon, we had our pick of trees, but our taste is for spindly noble firs with spaced branches, and it remains so.
We covered dixie cups with foil, to make silver bells, we strung popcorn and cranberries and my mother painted balsa-wood ornaments from a paint by numbers kit.
The bells and the berries are long gone, but I still have little hand painted the wooden shoes.
I made paper chains from construction paper and taped them around the windows.
My mother made stockings out of green felt, writing our names in glitter, stuck on Elmer's glue.
Santa found our house, and filled our stockings and left loot under the tree.
Today I bought a tall skinny tree from my neighbor, as I always do and we will decorate it with my collection of ornaments from my 6th year forward, and some things Rolf and I bought from Germany and things friends have gifted me, and a few strings of cranberries for good measure.