I love family parties. It gives me a chance to catch up with my cousins who I don’t see nearly enough and the aunt and uncle on my dad’d side of the family who provide me with a lot of information about my dad and what he was like as a kid. I hear about how their dad paid them for their report cards and how he got them to do all of the work around the house without ever having to lift a finger. My grandfather on my dad’s side was not a very good dad. It sometimes amazes me that his three sons all turned out to be really good dads and even better grandfathers.

I listened to my dad and aunt talk about their childhood Christmases and how they acquired the tree for the season. From what I gathered they went to the lot and picked out the tree they liked and the teenage sons were sent back at night to get the tree free of charge. This explains a lot about why my dad was really disappointed in me when I shoplifted as a kid. He raised me to work for your money and go buy the things you need. Stealing is wrong. I think his dad had a different theory about how to obtain the things in life you want or think you might need. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but I think my dad must have hit a limb on the way down and got thrown far away from that old apple tree.

My aunt stayed with my parents the night of the party. She was on her way to Florida and in town for a day or two so she slept in my parents’ spare room. My daughter and I went over to visit with her before she left since we don’t see her very often and she told me a story about how she obtained a bike the prior spring to peddle around town. She apparently found a bike that was in front of someone’s house, close to the curb, not chained to anything and in very good condition. It was a boys bike so it wasn’t ideal for her, but it was good enough to ride around town on. She jumped on the bike and rode off. She said obviously they were throwing it away if it was outside, unlocked and unattended. She also said she didn’t ride down that street all summer just in case the person wasn’t actually throwing away the bike that was somewhere between the house and the curb that night she walked by. She rode the bike all summer and when she was done she went and put it back by the house. In the end I guess she borrowed a bike for a few months without the owner’s consent or permission. She laughed when she told the story the same way she laughed about how the boys in the family got the Christmas tree.

Maybe the female apples stay close to the tree and the males roll as far away as they can. I don’t know, but I’m really grateful for that branch that shot my dad so far away from the tree that he didn’t even know he was an apple anymore.

*I wrote this story while listening to Pennywise