Our brains are weird, aren’t they? Or is that just me
My parents divorced when I was 9. My dad was pretty good about keeping up the visitation schedule until he moved 4 hours away, and then it was less and less (and I was harder and harder to deal with!), until eventually I didn’t see him at all for three years. We later had a great relationship, and I am thankful for that, but that’s not the point of this story.
What is the point? Good question.
My dad was a fan of Elvis’s music. I like it too. Particularly when it is Christmas time. My brain makes strange connections between memories all the time. Some of these memories and connections involve my dad, Elvis, Christmas and getting sick right outside my dad’s car, and yet, I still love Elvis Christmas songs and recall happy memories of my dad and that Christmas.
During one of the early Christmases after my parents divorced (I was probably 10), my dad picked me up from school when we let out for Christmas break. This was maybe the only time that happened because my dad was a coach at a different school, so he couldn’t be at my school at 3:30 while he was at work – time travel expert, my father was not.
Anyway, I used to have a horribly temperamental nervous stomach, and time with my dad was stressful. So I didn’t think it was unusual for my stomach to be upset when he came to pick me up from school.
Dad put on the Elvis Christmas tape (yep – tape, as in cassette. It was white with black writing, if you are wondering. The cassette case had a colorful picture of a very tan Elvis in a white shirt with a black scarf around his neck against a dark red background, again, just in case you wanted to know (: ). Dad started humming along to the music, singing along a little bit to the “woo ooo” parts. I started tapping my fingers on my pants leg along with the song.
However, I didn’t start feeling better.
I pressed my face against the car window. It was so cold outside, which was also unusual, since it very well could have been 85 degrees. I grew up in Texas after all. Thankfully though, it was freezing outside, and the window was nice and cold.
My stomach still didn’t feel better. About the time I figured out that something was really wrong, it was almost too late for Dad to pull over onto the shoulder of the road. But he was a good driver (he also taught Driver’s Ed ;-p) and I made it out of the car and into the grass in time to get sick.
I could hear the sound of Elvis singing “Blue Christmas” in Dad’s car and Dad asking if I was “okay,” which meant was I alright enough to make it back to the car to make it the rest of the way to his apartment without throwing up again. The grass crunched under my shoes, and I could smell the exhaust fumes from Dad’s car.
Once I was “okay” enough to get back in the car, I pressed my face back to the window pane and Dad started humming again. For some reason, I felt so much better, I knew everything would be “okay” – maybe not great, maybe not Norman Rockwell, but everything would be okay.
It is strange the comfort I get when I hear Elvis sing “Blue Christmas” or any of his other Christmas songs. I think of my dad, who passed away in 2008, and I miss him. And I hum along to the songs and think about how good the icy window felt against my check, and how I knew in my heart that everything would be “okay” one way or the other.