It’s 5:40am on New Year’s Day as I drive south past the Christmas House looking less festive now that the lights have dimmed for the season. I’m on my way to get donuts for the family, something usually reserved for an after Mass Sunday treat but it’s the first day of 2016 so it deserves some modicum amount of recognition and ceremony. A hint of snow lines the sidewalks approaching downtown where the last vestiges of a Christmas holiday still stand like the lights at the Historical Society and the snow man in the ticket booth of the Warner Theatre. Soon the Christmas trees will be collected, the lights put away and then snow will be more burden than harbinger of holiday cheer but for this moment as I turn into the parking lot of the popular New England chain donut shop I see it with a sense of nostalgia, of memories of whipped cream on egg nog or hot cups of cocoa by a fire. We don’t have a fireplace and the egg nog I chanced to enjoy before the children drank it came in a small Dixie cup but the past is less important than how we choose to remember it.
There’s a line of cars in the drive thru already as those destined to be awake and on the roads have discovered this one beacon of hope in the darkness. The truck in front of me has an order for an army with specific drinks and special egg sandwiches. When I reach the speaker I order a dozen assorted donuts and the cashier sounds surprised as if I’m forgetting twelve other menu items. I could have ordered coffee, a special coffee, something with the words Macchiato or Mocha in it but I know I can make coffee at home whereas my baking skills have not surpassed the store bought Dunkin Hines cake mixes so I order the items I can’t make at home.
It’s still dark out but I can see our illuminated Christmas tree lights through the window as I pull up to the house; the glow guides my way as I enter and place the box of treasures on the table. The house is silent, the family is asleep; my daughter stayed up past midnight for the first time but I missed it. I was working at a part time manual labor overnight job and the promise of “time and a half” for five of the eight hours of labor seems like an unequitable bargain while stepping into the house after the deed is done but I recognize that if the opportunity had not existed two days ago and then by some miracle it fell into my possession I would readily choose it again and again. I recognize the historical hardships when employment was scarce. It is not that I shouldn’t have worked on a holiday, it is more accurate to say I should have started righting the financial ship sooner but it is a lesson I’ll carry into the new year.
At 7am my son bounds down the stairs. He discovers the box of donuts right away, the surprising and unusual element in the room. After he chooses the frosted covered donut I remove the box to save additional “first choices’ for the still sleeping sibling and mother. I ask him if he had a good sleep. “Yes,” he says as he focuses on the delicious prize in his hand. When he’s done he sits on my lap. I agree to stop typing.
Categories: Torrington Stories