At times, I can feel my life shifting. My feet planted in the St. George Island surf. The waves sluicing around the scalloped edges, chewing away at the sand, depositing it across the tops until only the arches show.
I thought about this as I thumbed through old photo albums, searching for bits of captured Christmases. I wanted to write a poignant piece about family and love and good food and Mom with her homemade eggnog, some with the whiskey-ed “nog,” some without. And nobody ever got poisoned from drinking raw eggs. Imagine. Different times.
Remember those thick books of photos? When we actually printed out pictures and pasted them on pages, instead of zipping them to some magical cloud where they linger like digital ghosts? When hardly any of the shots were perfect because we didn’t have redo’s if Grandma decided to blink, or if the baby was distracted by the dog chewing up tinsel.
We didn’t have planned “photo bombs” where folks inserted themselves into otherwise perfectly posed shots. All of the pictures contained random elements and the unexpected. No need to fake a bomb. Every family gathering was a ready minefield.
I thought about how life is picking up the pace, with more runway behind instead of out front. How people have blipped from this side of the veil to places I can sense, but not see or touch. How nothing remains the same.
Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes not so much.
Then I noted one element in all of the pictures. One wonderful, magical, delightful element.
The first picture.
Me at six. Printed flannel P.J.s and fuzzy boot slippers. I wear twin six shooters. A Roy Rogers shirt and pants lie in a ripped box at my feet. Good job, Mama and Daddy. Who can be a proper cowgirl in a fringed and very sissy Dale Evans skirt? I straddle a long box, tearing at the paper. My expression is intense. A stick pony with a white vinyl head waits inside. I will ride to The Great Plains and back on that horse.
And the hair.
Toni home perm hair.
Naturally flat for the first two inches, then frizzy as a scared cat’s tail for the next six. Someone has tied a red bow around one clump. To quote the Grinch, that frill “will be the first thing to go.”
Photo number two.
Skip ahead a few years.
Outside after the gifting frenzy, before the family dinner. I pose, legs planted again, only this time on either side of a Stingray bicycle with chopper-curved handlebars and a banana seat. The trees behind me, stripped of leaves. It’s gray and cold, judging by my puffy coat with the rabbit fur-lined hood.
Do I have that hood snugged over my head? Oh, heck no. Wouldn’t want to mash down the basketball mound of rat-teased hair. My older sister must’ve had beauty salon leanings. There’s enough Aqua Net shellacked on that ’do to stop a meteor.
I must like it. I didn’t bother covering it up.
Photo number three.
The last picture of my family of origin before some faded away. Only we didn’t know it then.
I stand, my feet planted on either side of my sweet Golden Retriever Omega. I lean toward the La-Z-Boy recliner where my father sits. My mom perches on the other side on a chair we dragged from the dining room, leaning with her arm curled around his. My older brother and sister stand behind Daddy’s chair. We manage to all smile at once, no lidded eyes, no distractions. Even the dog faces the camera and grins.
My hair looks normal. But I know it’s not. Beneath the fuzzy Santa hat, hides my version of a mullet. Didn’t recall ever having one, but the pictures from that time prove me wrong. Memory has a way of shading in the not-so-attractive times.
Daddy tells me I’m beautiful, that I look just like Farrah Fawcett. Which I do not. I am tall and a little pleasantly plump. And my straight hair will not do all that wispy, curled layering Farrah managed to carry off so well. And I’m not petite, or famous.
Thank God for Santa hats. And fathers with eyes of love.
I think this year, that I shall fashion some wacky style. Maybe add some streaks of color. The advantage of this time period: loads of hair products guaranteed to lift and separate, and my over-fifty self, devoid of shame.
I’ll put it in line with the rest of the holiday hair masterpieces.
Picture number four.
Make them wonder one day, “What was Aunt Rhett thinking?”
Whatever you celebrate--I wish you safe, wonderful holidays filled with joy and laughter, and maybe some Holiday Hair.
Tune in next year, when I welcome more talented authors to the Writers4Higher family.
Creator and moderator for Writers4Higher
Author of Southern fiction and Middle Grade fiction