News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

December 14, 2009

The Off Season: ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas…’

(Continued)



We — my brother and sister and I — thought it cruel and unusual punishment to be banned from wandering the house at all hours. We tossed and turned in our footed sleepers (my brother didn’t wear those since he was six years older; I think he slept in a leather jacket and kept a toothpick in his mouth), half-listening to Perry Como and Mel Torme and Rosemary Clooney belt out Christmas tunes on our yellow-dialed radio. I must have heard Nat King Cole sing “The Christmas Song” 20 times on those long, long evenings.

My dad kept a vigil near our tree, napping on our living room couch, sometimes covered only with the newspapers he had been reading, as if he were homeless and on a park bench. He was a poor guard, most often dropping off to sleep to the hiss of our gas log and the glare of our old Philco. My dad was a prodigious snorer, and the inhaled blasts of his heavy breathing shook the house and could be heard even over the upraised voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as it reminded us through the radio that we still had at least five years of the 10-year sentence left to endure before we could open our presents.

Those days are gone now, of course. The last time I saw a bubble light was in a water-soaked box of decrepit junk at a local auction, and I haven’t been back to my childhood home for close to 20 years. But the glow of those dime store lights that adorn my office window takes me back home for a while, so much, in fact, that I can still hear in my head the bittersweet communion of Nat King Cole and snoring and the December wind.

You can contact Mike at hickory913@aol.com, or by mail c/o the Tribune-Star, PO Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808. He will be signing and selling his books at Baesler’s Market on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and be at Kadel’s Hallmark at North Plaza on Sunday, Dec. 20 from 2 to 5 p.m. You can visit Mike’s Web site at www.mikelunsford.com

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