Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 1939

My work will sometimes traumatize me, especially when I’m in someone’s home around the holidays and yesterday was like being in Austria, but not in the Yuletide, Saint Nicolas, White Christmas sort of way. I was installing a granite sink top and faucet/drain combo to finish up a bathroom renovation while the mommy was trying to teach the importance of giving during this time of year to one of her two daughters but the lesson had missed its mark. Turns out they have a tradition in their household where sometime after Christmas day the children sort through their toys and pick out the ones they have either out grown or don’t play with anymore, then find the saved boxes to put them in and give them to a charity that in turn gives them to kids who otherwise would not have a toy for Christmas. It’s kind of paying it forward for next year and a way for the mommy to get rid of the crap the kids have laying around their rooms. But the youngest daughter, who is around 5, was very upset as she was organizing her toys and agonizing over what to let go of. For four hours I listened to a little girl cry as thought she was deciding which child she would send to the labor camps and which would be sent to die. As Sophie’s Choice played out I was in agony while listening from the other room as though I was hearing it on a radio. The drama, so thick I could cut it with a knife, then when I thought all hope was lost the older sister came to her aid in the form of extra storage in her room. This would allow her to only have to give away some doll clothing and accessories and keep the Barbies she so adored. This sister gave selflessly and now the broadcast I was listening to instantly became Schindler’s List as the two sisters negotiated with their mother the agreement between them. As I turned on the water at the new faucet, watched it pour into the sink and flow down the drain I knew that in this very small part of the world, everything would be just fine.

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