The Other Side of Christmas ’06

image copyright Fred First

Too fast. They’ve come and gone, and 95% of the things I thought we’d do and talk about didn’t happen. But 5% did, and I’m thankful to have had the time together, gathered as we were from too-far-flung homes. Maybe it’s going to be that way for the long haul. Maybe some day they’ll live closer. It was a merry Christmas, and I’m just now rounding up my little pile of booty from our Tuesday night unwrapping. Let’s see…

IN the way of reading matter, what does this say about moi:

First, sitting on my desk is America (the Book) / Teachers Edition: a Citizens Guide to Democracy Inaction–by Jon Stuart (with foreword by Thomas Jefferson.) Lacking TV, the Daily Show is our source of news via the web, in three minute snippets, usually a week old. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot. Ooow! I just discovered it has a centerfold!

And 2) Uncle John’s Tremendous Bathroom Reader–the latest in a long line of annual Procelain Library editions from the wife-side kin, and to date, read cover to cover in just about exactly a year–in said library. The first year they gifted me in this way, Ann recoiled as I unwrapped it, shocked that her sister would give a gift of 350 pages of bathroom humor. Which these books are not. But I’m a little concerned if this weighty tome is predictive of my plumbing needs for the year ahead: this volume is 750 pages long! (Eat more prunes.)

And in wearing attire, of course I got my traditional underwear: a pack of wife-beaters. From the wife. And from the daughter, who apparently reads Fragments from time to time, a t-shirt with an inscription she gleaned from the blog. I promise a picture soon with me wearing it, and also holding the wooden placard (along the same subject line) that I will put above my desk.

Deeper into the little stash, another tradition: my bottle of Gentleman Jack (Daniels) that will predictably last me until next Thanksgiving, mostly due to the fact that we can never remember to buy COKE (which I otherwise don’t drink) and my failing to develope a taste for Dr. Pepper as a mixer.

Oh, you’ll be happy to know (those of you who knew and loved (or loathed) it when I posted a blog post about it the week after Christmas that each segment of the family–including us–received a framed 5 x 7 copy of my photograph of the Peach Butt–a fun family memory. Now what other family can claim to have given images of fruit cleavage for Christmas, huh?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Beautiful family! I can tell from your post that it is 95% about the family coming and 5% about the gifts… Your son looks just like you – I assume that is him on the left.

    Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year, good luck with all your literary projects ahead!

  2. About that 5%…
    Yeah, Dad, that sounds about right: seems like our visits come and go so fast, but danged if it wasn’t a real good visit. I’ll keep my eyes out for that other 95%: we’ll share it one way or another…