This was first published here in 2011. Seems like a good one for the holidays.
I've got a question.
I ask it, because I recently remembered in great detail
an afternoon at our lake house, when I was about ten.
It probably took place in the usual tense atmosphere—
Mom (quietly) pissed that she had to pack the car and get separate groceries,
Dad (quietly) pissed that Mom's such a damn baby,
my little sister and I pretending not to know everything.
But then our Springer Spaniel, Winner, took off after a squirrel.
He was at a dead run when the chain ran out,
and instead of flying up in the air,
for some reason he went down, head first.
"It was like he went down in a hole!" my Dad shouted, gasping.
Dad could not get hold of himself after seeing Winner go down like that.
Could not stop laughing. (Dad wasn’t a big laugher.)
We were alarmed, until we started laughing too.
And then we couldn't stop.
So we all sat down at the dining room table, and laughed and laughed. And laughed and laughed. And laughed.
When we started to stop laughing, we asked Dad
when was the last time he'd laughed like that.
He said there was a time—and he started laughing again just thinking of it—
in maybe 1930, when his mother stopped the car on a country road to ask a farmer directions.
"Do you know how to get to Middletown?" she asked the farmer.
"No," the farmer replied. "How do ya?"
Dad said it was the funniest moment of his life.
And he collapsed again, his whole body shaking,
sounding like he was crying,
and we all laughed like that,
sitting at the dining room table,
for maybe an hour.
The question is: There's so much talk about childhood moments that scar us for life.
Is it also possible that other childhood moments can heal us for life?