Short fiction by Mo Conlan
Dear Charlotte and Benny,
Hi from your granny, Charlotte Senior. My friend Maybel, across the hall at the home here -- big red hair, dyed – told me that she was writing her grandchildren a Christmas letter passing along all the wise things she’s learned, and that I’d be a bad grandma if I didn’t do the same.
I asked Maybel if I couldn’t just email you whatever info I have. Not really that much. She said no, because it needs to be on paper that lasts. I said OK. I am mailing this, as your parents have decided not to come here this year for Christmas.
I understand your other grandma has a big house all decked out and glittery with lights and Santas and whirlygigs that fill the yard. And a holiday Bouncy House.
I am sending this letter in the “snail” mail. A long time ago, people used to talk to each other by sending letters delivered by the postman. It was nice because you could keep the letters in your dresser drawer, take them out and reread them, and feel the paper.
There are a lot of things you two already know, like not eating yellow snow, though a little mud won’t hurt. So, I will stick to what might be new.
Never run downstairs in socks or stocking feet. Proof: friend Connie, broken collar bone; Theresa, broken ankle, laid up eight weeks; Ollie, dead.
Don’t run with sharp scissor. Trip, fall, scissors right through the heart and blood everywhere. Some other kid gets your Christmas presents.
About money. Make your own as soon as possible, paper route, walk-the-dog, babysit. If you have money, give some away to somebody who doesn’t. I know this sounds crazy. Maybe you are too young to understand. And you are greedy, which you may grow out of. But this is Karma. If you give something away, like money or love, it comes back.
I know your parents may think I am just a crazy old hippie. But, I am not as old as Maybel. Karma works like magic. When I was a hippie, we just shared everything – food, houses, kids, money. It always seems to come back. I think maybe it’s because I was a hippie that your parents decided not to come here for Christmas, but I give them the benefit of the doubt. Karma.
More wisdom from Gran: Never put a pea up your nose or in your ear, unless you wish to grow a pea farm there. And speaking of pee; if you pee your pants at school, pretend nothing has happened, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and, when nobody is looking, throw your underpants in the trash bin. It may be a bit breezy down there, but you will be less wet and smelly.
Now, Benny, I know that for some reason, boys like farts and stories about farts. So, this advice is for Charlotte: if you fart in public, look around as if hunting for the person who let fly. Don’t apologize; don’t give yourself away.
A long time ago, before my family got citified, we lived in the mountains, and there were two families who had what they called “feuds.” These weren’t TV pie fights. People got shot and killed. So, whenever you have a fight with a friend or someone in the family, patch it up as soon as can. Before bullets fly.
I know your parents think you are stars in everything you do, school and sports. That is fine, but don’t try to be perfect. Trying to be perfect will drive you crazy. Just ask me.
OK, other than the
socks/stairs thing, this is my top advice: Give your parents a break. They
aren’t nearly as devious and manipulative as you two. Be kind. Realize where your I-pads and cell phones come from.
One more: don’t eat too much ice cream. Your stomach could explode. A dip or two won’t hurt, but don’t eat much more than that. Believe me, when I worked in the hospital, I saw children come in with “ice cream stomachs” and it was not pretty.
Oh, I also have some news. My friend Anita, who works at the home here needed some money for Christmas presents for her grandchildren and since I had extra this month, I gave her 50 bucks. She gave me a lottery ticket as a Christmas present. Did you see me on the news? My ticket won the lottery and I have several million dollars coming at me. Of course, I am splitting this with Anita, which means she can send her grandchildren to college.
I think it is possible your parents may be coming here for Christmas after all.
Love you to pieces,