The wife and I attended the Christmas party for my writing workshop last night. For the past few years it's been held at the bed & breakfast run by one of our members, everyone brings great food and wine and a fine time is had scarfing it down. Then, afterward, we have readings of some of our latest material or Christmas related stuff. This year, though, our b&b member has sold his b&b and so we had to have it at a local tea-dispensing establishment, where we dined on heavy `horse's doovers' and then did the readings.
At the end, Linda,
our nefarious leader, asked us for our best Christmas memories of
things we found in our Christmas stockings. Most of our class is of an
age where they can remember being terribly excited to receive fruit in
their stocking. We think nothing today of popping down to the market for
a nice pineapple, but such exotic conveniences are a relatively recent
thing, even in this country, particularly in rural areas of my state. My
family never did much with stockings, growing up, so I had no memories
of that. However, I did speak of a relatively recent Christmas memory of
a gift I still treasure.
In the summer of 1980 I saw
my first episode of the British science fiction show Doctor Who. It was
an episode somewhere in the middle of the story "Revenge of the Cybermen."
I was instantly transfixed by the universe presented to me, its chief
resident, the Doctor, his lovely companion Sarah Jane Smith and, to a
far lesser extent, his other companion Harry Sullivan. I was hooked from
that moment and hungrilly sought out all things Doctor Who, from the
books about the show, to the novelizations, to magazine articles, to the
comics and to, eventually, the toys.
Though I didn't
quite vocalize it at the time, what I wanted most in the world as a 4th
grader was a Doctor Who scarf just like the one worn by Tom Baker on the
show. (Yeah, I know, there were like 5 of them.) It was such a
monstrous thing in both length and color scheme, but I adored the show
and therefore adored the fashion sense of its characters. At the time, I
didn't even consider that I might one day have an actual scarf like it.
That sort of thing was only found on TV, as far as my 9 year old brain
was concerned. Instead, I borrowed a muffler from my dad's then
girlfriend, Nell, which I still have not returned. It looked nothing
like the Doctor's scarf, being white and with tied off tassles on the
end, but it was all I had and I wore it habitually.
Time travel ahead a decade or so. My friend Joe
and I took a weekend trip to Hotlanta and happened to find a Nerd Shop,
somewhere on the outskirts of the city. We were nearly finished with
our shopping and were on the way to the counter to check out when there,
lying coiled in a basket like a multi-colored snake, we spyed a single
Doctor Who scarf. It was a thing of beauty and we both coveted it.
However, because there was only one scarf and two of us, neither of us
could purchase it for fear of drawing the eternal jealous ire of the
other. If we had bought it, we would have had to work out some kind of
time share deal and that seemed unwieldy. Later, I was able to search
out a knitting pattern for such a scarf on a Doctor Who Usenet
newsgroup, but I didn't know anyone who could knit.
travel ahead another decade. I'm married to a wonderful woman who had
the good fortune to have been given birth by another wonderful woman, my
Ma-In-Law. Ma, I learned early on, is a crafty soul who can knit all
sorts of yarny goodness, if of a mind. It took me a couple of years, but
slowly it dawned on me that here was a gal who COULD knit and who loved
me enough that she might do me up a scarf if I asked real sweet. On
Thanksgiving, in 2002, I even brought the subject up to my wife, Ashley,
and asked if she thought Ma might be willing. Ashley said, no way and
that a Doctor Who scarf would take forever to knit and Ma just didn't
have that kind of time.
One short month later, a day or
so from Christmas, we were back in North Carolina visiting family for a
day before heading toward Mississippi. I was sitting in a chair,
watching TV when Ashley and Ma approached carrying a double lined
grocery bag, tied off by its straps. They passed it to me and stood
smiling down. I took it, not even suspecting what might be inside. As I
was trying to untie the straps, I caught a glimpse of knitting through
the top and instantly knew what it was. Deep inside me, the 4th grade
version of me snapped to attention and I began clapping my nuts N bolts
stained forearms together in pure 9 year old glee. At long long last, I
had my scarf. And a beautiful scarf it was, 17 feet of green and tan and
brown and orange--just fantastic! Ma said it was the ugliest thing
she'd ever created, but she was glad I liked it. I wrapped myself up in
its length and soaked in the coolness of the very concept.
"You're gonna sleep with that thing, tonight, aren't you?" Ashley asked.
"Hell, yes, I'm going to sleep with it!" I said.