Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Living Ghosts, Part 1 (Christmas Past)

(The past couple of years has been an intense time of delving into, analyzing, and (hopefully) better understanding myself. Now, when I look back at images of my past, I see them differently. Perhaps, more clearly. This series will share some of those musings.)

Santa was friends with my neighbors.

Each year, this family would host a Christmas party of sorts for the neighborhood kids and parents. Here I am six years old. We would get Santa lap time, mumble what we want for Christmas, then get a small gift from Santa right there.

It's weird being that boy in my mind, feeling what he's feeling, and seeing him objectively at the same time as a 38 (soon to be 39) year old. As I'm mulling it over right now, I think that the most notable things I see today are the things I was completely unaware of when I was younger.

That boy feels: very self-conscious, uneasy with the attention of the room turned on him, and not sure how the interaction with Santa will go. Excited, but cautious. An underlying nudge of anxiety.

The adult me sees: an odd confidence for my age, even though the boy's posture is defensive and closed. I'm maintaining a personal power vis-à-vis Santa. I'm not sitting. I'm facing him. And by standing, I'll taller than he is. I'm forcing him to deal with me person-to-person. Yet, I don't look brazen. I look friendly and sincere.

Overall, I think I appear quite differently than how I felt. It might be easy to misinterpret my unease and caution. I realize now that I didn't feel some of my strengths back then. I probably never learned as a child to give myself that credit.

Of course, once the goods were in hand (love ya Santa!), here I am contemplating all of the dazzling skyscrapers I could build with my new Girders and Panels set.

I kind of wish I still had that.

I'm in the mood to build.

Oooh, and air hockey!! Anyone up for a game??


Sarah Hina said...

Oo, me! Me! Air hockey is awesome. :)

Sweet photos, Jason. The first one does present some conflicting messages. Your body is retreating and guarded, but your face is so open and eager. I imagine that you were always braver and more involved than you gave yourself credit for.

Thanks for sharing. :) Now get to work on those girders and panels, Mr. Architect! ;)

Catvibe said...

I think you should definitely get some building toys for yourself. You make me remember the construction sets my brother had, and how he relives those joys now with his son. I have recently been thinking about his childhood with its microscopes and chemistry sets and millions and millions of superhero comics, and my own childhood of endless fairy tale books and cherished stuffed animal friends and secret invented languages. Interesting that you are going there and analyzing the upbringing you had, its inspiring!

Miladysa said...

Thank you for sharing these photographs and memories!

I'm up for air hockey too :D

Happy New Year Jason!

Charles Gramlich said...

Some things from childhood I remember very well. I remember often being very excited about something new or something that was just amazing to me but probably old hat to my elders. I remember how when I was excited my voice got louder and how I was constantly told to be quiet. One thing I learned from that is that excitiment is "not" contagious. At least when you're a kid.

laughingwolf said...

happy new year to you and yours :D

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks for sharing something so personal.

When I see pictures of myself as a child, I'm immediately transported back in time. I feel and sense everything of that moment, back in time. And I was terribly insecure. It's a painful trip back in time. But, growth and experience are very nice things.
I'm very happy and much more settled now.

Happy New Year, to you and Aine and your whole family!

Anonymous said...

Cute photos - it's great to try and remember how we felt at a special time in our youth.
Happy New Year to you and yours. Hope 2009 is a great one for you all.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, the air jets are warmed up, and the puck is ready to sail. Ready to get your game on?? Your observations are spot on. Especially about the budding architect. ;)

Catvibe, wow, your brother sounds oddly familiar. I even scammed my babysitter into stealing sulfuric acid from school for me. Thanks for the encouragement on these recollections!

Miladysa, you've got the winner of the next game. :) Happy New Year!

Charles, loved that observation!! I bet it took quite a while for you to learn that excitement wasn't infectuous. I know it did for me.

Laughingwolf, Happy New Year!!

Chris, if you'd like, I'd be interested in seeing some of your own recollections.

Aggie, Happy New Year! May you have a wonderful 2009.

Remiman said...

Happy New Year!
Let the new year bolster your strengths and make your weaknesses assets.

SzélsőFa said...

I have no idea what an air hockey is, but I'm all into any game.
This New Year's Eve we had a small party with 3 families, including ours. We played board games and enjoyed it quite well.

SzélsőFa said...

That, and a Very Happy New Year to you and Aine!

Aine said...

I thought Santa was supposed to bring that air hockey game... didn't you make the "good boy" list?? There's always next year...

Interesting that you are recognizing things now that could not have been seen by the younger you. I often wish I could go back in time and see myself. (Not to mention what I'd give to go back and see you!!) ;)

And, for the record, you still appear differently than you feel at times, I think. I realize how often I misinterpret you. (Sorry!) And, I'm very, very glad that you are realizing your strengths now. You've always had such wonderful character, strength, talents, and traits. You deserve to feel proud of the man you have become.

Robin Caroll said...

Happy New Year, Jason!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Milton said something like -

Childhood shows the man, as morning shows the day.

I don't know you personally, Jason. But, I have deduced from different posts, that you were a great little guy, who grew up to be a great big guy - warm, intelligent, thoughtful and good.

Anonymous said...

Rel, Happy New Year to you and yours!

Szelsofa, sounds lovely. :) Air hockey is an electric game where a blower under the game surface shoots air up through tiny holes. A plastic puck somewhat floats on this air. You hit it back and forth with paddles trying to get it into the other person's goal (a slot that the puck passes into). It's a fast-paced game.

Aine, I'd very much like to go back and see you as a child too. I wish we had movies at least to give a little life to those old pictures. And thanks. :) Funny how much there is to learn about oneself even after all these years.

Robin, Happy New Year!!

Kaye, thank you. Truly. :)

Anonymous said...

I am all for a bit of self-analysis. I think it's crucial for personal growth. I was painfully self-conscious as a child, so I can relate to what you're saying. To make matters worse I blushed at the drop of a hat so all the kids at school called me 'Tomato Face.'

It's funny, but I thought of a Christmas present I received long ago and wished I still had it. It was a tiny doll's house made from glass. It had little fairies who lived inside it, complete with little wands and crowns. It was magical.

When we moved from Scotland to Australia it was damaged in transit. I remember opening the packing crate and finding nothing but glass. I cried for months afterwards.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane and for your wonderful writing all year. I hope you and your family have a New Year full of abundance!