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Troll-house memories

Here’s wishing you all a fantastic Christmas — or whatever holiday you celebrate — or even just a fabulous end to a memorable year. I hope you not only remember the good times of the past, but make new memories to remember in the future!
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When I was little, I wanted a troll for Christmas. It wasn’t just me; my brothers wanted one too. Only problem was our Mom hated trolls; she thought they were ugly and pointless. And, in the lean years after her divorce from my father, I’m sure she thought trolls were a luxury in a household constantly in need of new shoes and mittens and hats for three growing children.

One Christmas, though, our mother relented.

That morning, my brothers and I had rushed excitedly to the living room to see what Santa had left. And what did we find?

A large cardboard box.

Huh?

Perplexed, we investigated. We could see that on one side of the box, our mother had cut out windows and pasted on little shutters. Inside each window was a miniscule candlestick made out of construction paper with a little flicker of flame at the top. A wreath hung at a front door that actually opened and closed. Aha … a home of some sort.

We continued our investigation and found that the other side of the box was completely cut away, like a doll house – so you could see the rooms. A second floor had been built out of a box flap, with a set of paper stairs glued along the wall. Every room was outfitted with furniture, ingeniously manufactured out of things like fabric scraps, match sticks, bottle caps, thread spools, and little odds and ends from around our real house.

In the living room, a construction-paper Christmas tree decorated with tiny beads at the end of each limb and a tin-foil star at the top, stood in the corner. A dozen teeny presents, painstakingly wrapped in sparkly foil and decorated with miniscule ribbons, surrounded the base of the tree. Hanging from the mantle over a faux-fireplace complete with colored-in logs and flames going up an unseen chimney, were three miniature stockings made of felt. And in the middle of the cardboard box living room … squat and flat-footed, stood three trolls.

They, too, bore our mother’s handiwork. Yes, they still had their electrified-neon, Don King hairdos, but they also had tiny elf-like hats made out of green felt pinned into the massive frizz atop their heads and matching elf-like shoes on their feet. She’d even made red and green vests to adorn their naked troll bodies.

We all immediately scooped up our trolls; having a brief debate over who would get which troll, and then turned our attention to ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the troll house and its contents. I know the troll house got a lot of play in the days that followed, but kids being kids, I’m sure it was eventually torn to bits — probably during a troll war of some sort — and eventually tossed out.

But what didn’t get tossed out was the memory.

Throughout the years, usually at Christmas when my brothers and I would all be home at the same time, we’d gather in my Mom’s kitchen, getting in her way as she cooked, snagging bites of food, and trading jokes. Inevitably, one of us kids would ask, “Hey, remember the troll house that Mom made when we were little?”

From there, memories of our childhood would cascade from our memory banks, reminding us freshly of things long forgotten: how my brother used to hide my Raggedy Ann; how another brother, after my parents’ divorce, had stolen a neighbor’s Easter eggs to secretly share with me because we didn’t have any of our own; how we used to run after the ice cream truck with the other neighborhood kids; and of course, to hear my brothers tell it, how spoiled their little sister (that would be me) was.

That long ago Christmas, when my mom thought she was making a beautiful home for what she considered butt-ugly trolls, she was really making a home for our memories.

Memories of a wonderfully creative and special mother. Memories of being a family together long before we went on to have our own. Memories of tough times made happy by real love.

Now, when we get together at Christmas and that moment comes when we ask each other, “Hey, remember the troll house?” — what we’re really asking is, “Hey, remember our family?”

And the answer is, yes. Yes, we do.

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Posted on December 22nd, 2008Comments RSS Feed
One Response to Troll-house memories
  1. Simply, lovely….

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