Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Week Between

My dad worked as a department manager at a Sears in the city. One of his departments was the Garden Center, which during the winter months was converted to the Christmas Center. The week after Christmas was always a busy week for him dealing with returns, clean-up and converting the area back to the Garden Center. When I was kid,10,11,12, 13 years old, I would go with a few of my brothers to work with my dad during the week of Christmas break. We were off from school, he needed the help and I am sure my mother didn't mind that we were out of her hair the week between Christmas and New Years.

Our jobs included fixing and repackaging returned Christmas lights, clearing and sweeping the warehouses, sorting returned ornaments, and breaking down cardboard boxes. We worked hard. We were never on the official Sears payroll but my dad made sure he always gave us a few bucks for our time. But I think the main reason why some of us went to work with my dad was because of the McDonald's lunch break. We rarely went to fast food places as a kid and the opportunity to eat McDonald's was huge deal.

Lunch time would come, dad would hand the oldest a couple of fives and tell us to walk to the McDonald's for lunch. I remember feeling so cool that I got to walk in the city without any parents and buy my own lunch. We would pig out on burgers, fries and milkshakes making sure that we spent every last nickel knowing there was a possibility dad would ask for the change when we returned. I would freeze on the walk back to Sears, carrying my vanilla shake, making sure I got every last drop of the delicious wax-from-the cup-infused-ice cream flavored drink.

When we returned to Sears our work ethic changed, now that McDonald's was behind us. Our jobs included, getting forklift rides from Sears employees named Spanky and Dirtball, playing hide-and-seek in the warehouse, daring each other to see who could hold their tongue on 9-volt battery the longest, and spinning on my dad's office chair. At the end of the day, my dad would come and get us and we would act exhausted from the hard day at work. We would spend the car ride home talking with my dad about the days events and for a brief time we were one of his work buddies.

We would only work a few days that week between Christmas and New Years but the work was like a little vacation from our normal lives. That week between the two holidays has always been the source of some fond memories for me. The work, the fun with my brothers, the time spent with dad, and, of course,  the McDonald's.

The week between was always a good time for me.

Four years ago my dad passed away. He spent the the week between Christmas and New Years in and out of the hospital. After one visit to the hospital on that Christmas morning of 2007 he asked me if I could run to McDonald's for him. He was having trouble eating and he said the one thing he knew he could eat was McDonald's burgers and fries. I drove to the the two closest locations and called two others but all of them were closed for Christmas. Later that week my dad was admitted to the hospital and finally passed on January 2nd 2008 without ever having his McDonald's. It's funny how McDonald's, which was such a good part of the week between now became a source of sadness.

That particular week between Christmas and New Years was a rough one. Since then, each year, the week between has lost a bit of its special qualities. They were just not the same for me. I would find myself feeling down, getting into a funk.

This year, though, I feel like the cloud of melancholy has passed. I don't know why. Maybe it is time. Maybe my attention has been directed elsewhere. Or maybe, maybe, it is all the McDonald's burgers and shakes I have been eating.

Remember the camera adds 10 pounds. Milkshakes add another 10. My New Years resolution is to lose 20.

Happy New Years to you.


Lauren said...

I never knew he asked for McDonald's. Is this why you wanted to bring Max & Wyatt to work with you this week?

Sharkey said...

I think I like Lauren's comment as much as your post!

I was thinking of Skip last week when I saw his name at the Palace. I'm glad you're starting to get back into the spirit a little bit. I bet he'd like that.

Happy New Year to you, Lauren, and the boys!

for a different kind of girl said...

I firmly believe one of the myriad reasons we have kids is so they can stand in front of us in photographs and hide the evidence of things like our fondness for McDonald's. Or, in my case of late, 100 Grand bars.

Love this post.

Susie said...

I'm glad to hear that your holiday spirit is reviving. I understand the funk. With both of my parents and John's mom gone, I very nearly skipped Christmas this year. I hope to truly celebrate again some day. Your post is encouraging.

I like the previous comment. With that logic, you can keep eating McD's, as long as you keep having more and more babies to pose in front of you. (Oh, yea, Lauren is the one who actually gets to HAVE the babies. Might have to schmooze her some, to work that out.)

Happy New Year to you and and your beautiful family.

Meegs said...

Sorry for the funk, but glad that this year seemed better. Sending you lots of bright wishes for 2012.

sikesimaviking said...

Wow. I've been reading for years and have probably only commented once or twice but I have to tell you...this is so beautiful. It's funny the memories we hold onto once our parents are gone. I'm glad your funk lifted this year. I understand it completely. You have a beautiful family. Peace to all of you. Hugs.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Great story William. Thanks for sharing it.

I have a similar goal for 2012. I'll be checking in to see your progress.

Cole said...

You're a good son, Meaks, and a great dad. Best wishes to you, Lauren and the boys in 2012.

Shadefarm said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful family memories. I have enjoyed reading your blog for quite a long time. Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family.

jcbrown208 said...

Lovely story, tears and all. Happy memories that bring tears are the best of all. Love to you and your wonderful family.