***For my Fabulous Granddaughter
Written in February 2010
Updates December 2013
July 2014 and
With all due respects to the traditional Chinese practice of giving animal attributes to calendar years, 2009 was, in our experience, undoubtedly the Year of the Fairy. This remarkable discovery we owe to a little Sprite in our life, our granddaughter Reina. The Sprite – herself the incarnation of ethereal existences – is able to devour quantities of books borrowed from the Nellie McClung Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library. Throughout the year 2009, at least twenty books of Fairies (from the Rainbow Magic Scholastic series) escaped the rational filters of the adult brain to be read aloud to the Sprite. Over time by an insidious process, Fairies succeeded in thoroughly washing our brains (or more properly laundering or dry cleaning the brains, since no water was involved). We had to wait until the Christmas season to see, feel and otherwise experience the cerebral damage done by the year-long assault from a host of Fairies.
Brainwashed? You betcha! By early December when we set out to buy Christmas presents for the girls/young ladies in our life, we are drawn immediately, pulled, marionette-like to the top shelf at the back of Saraswati, the Nanaimo B.C. boutique where we usually purchase funky merchandise of international origin. There, perched alluringly just out of reach, are five of the most darling Fairies, a shop bound family of Feys, diaphanous wings deployed, asking, begging, pleading to be adopted and sent to nice homes to adorn some shelf or mantelpiece for someone of the female persuasion. Resistance is futile – for the die was cast some months before and we succumb to their charms and liberate the nymphs from their shop bound boredom. The Fairies can barely suppress their joy but somehow they hold on to their emotion and consent to voyaging some by Canada Post to Cambridge Ontario, others by car to Vancouver and Victoria to new homes of girls in the family.
The Young the Old, the Girl the Boy,The Rich the non-Rich
That would normally have been the end of the Year of the Fairy, but there were tasks for Fairies to perform even after 2009 had ended. My Granddaughter at seven years old is in that period of transition where temporary teeth are exchanged for longer lasting ones. The exchange of teeth in this, our privileged culture is sponsored by the tooth Fairy. I make an effort to connect more authentically with my Granddaughter, to bridge the gaps that separate us, generation gap, seven vs. seventy, gender gap, girl vs. boy and more importantly culture gap for she is a happy and fortunate child of the affluent First World and the child in me was a sometimes happy and an overall fortunate child of the Third World but with few of the endowments of affluence of children in North America. (This judgement is of course a gross generalization. It must be acknowledged that there are pockets of affluence in Third World countries as there are pockets of poverty in First World Countries.) Be that as it may, the barriers to understanding between my Granddaughter and me have to be undone before understanding becomes possible.
Blunder #1: The Prostate Fairy
In this spirit of reducing the barriers to understanding, when my Granddaughter reports that she has saved two of her baby teeth to put under her pillow to reap the rewards from the Tooth Fairy, I offer up a weak rejoinder. “I hope that the Prostate Fairy brings me my reward to compensate for the loss of my prostate when I go to the hospital, after all, that would be fair, wouldn’t it”? A quizzical look, knitted, furrowed brow and an index finger pointed to the temple and describing a fast moving, circular, clockwise rotation of the hand and pointed index finger is all I need to indicate that she understands all right. She understands that her Grandfather is off his rocker. Later some adults pick up the insanity and decide to humour the nut case. The result was that the Prostate Fairy did in fact come into existence and the proof of its/his/her existence is the dowry I received from it/him/her. Three shiny toonies (two dollar coins) in a little red purse, and a package of coins, a King’s ransom (King of a bankrupt nation) testified to the largesse of Fairies Inc. One of the adults, who shall remain anonymous but whose initials are Anna McMahon, declared that she had to ask for special dispensation from Fairies Inc. to do this visitation. “Fairies Inc. do not, I repeat, do not have dealings with adults!” was how the Spokesfairy put it. “Moreover” she added, “prostates diseased or otherwise have no business under pillows!” Fairies Inc eventually relented and made an exceptional visit as a special favour not to the recipient but to the advocate for the recipient.
Blunder #2: The Flightless, Fat Fairy Meets Matthew Cuthbert
It happened on New Year’s Eve Day. We had spent a saccharine sweet, Stephen Leacock/Norman Rockwell kind of afternoon. Small Town Chemainus played host to Anne of Green Gables and a very generous host it was. The buffet offering before the production of the play was sumptuous, decadent, outstanding as much for quality as for quantity and the dessert table stretched endlessly, as far as gluttony would allow. We lingered long at this banquet, savouring the warmth of family in an ideal ambience of lyrically florid piano stylings from seventy years of semi classical, popular and musical comedy tunes and did I mention limitless food? We were especially anticipating the production of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables in the Chemainus Theatre since the two Grandchildren in our presence had traveled to Prince Edward Island in the summer of 2009 and had visited the display and participated in the activities at the historic representation of Anne of Green Gables. The production was as we had expected, well acted with good production values. We have been to a few productions at the Chemainus Theatre and we know that the quality of the presentations is always reliable. At the end of the play, lovable old Matthew Cuthbert has his heart attack, tumbles from his chair, has to be assisted from the stage and we soon learn of his death. The curtain call at the end of the play quickly reassures the grandkids that all is well because the late Matthew returns, large as life, to acknowledge the applause of the spectators. We leave Chemainus in a beneficent haze full with the joy of excess, excess of food and a surfeit of emotion. A mere three hours later we are again preparing food, the obligatory third meal of the day since it is ordained that three square meals per day shall be the civilized Christian thing to do in our societies. At the supper table, Reina, our little Sprite, expressing the joy of the entire holiday season, the excitement of Christmas morning, the decorations in the house, the presents, the apparently universal spirit of generosity, and the memorable afternoon in Chemainus, asks her Grandfather; “Guggy? “Yes Reina?” “What kind of presents did Santa bring you when you were a little boy in Jamaica?” The brutal reply is already out of my mouth before I can monitor what I am saying. “Nothing, absolutely nothing!” She appears shocked and bewildered, my little Grandson is staring at me and I think that I see Brenda Lee on top of both their heads singing:
“Break it to me gently Give me time, give me time to ease the pain.”
I feel like a heel for breaking the spell. I think that I am an “A hole” for breaking her heart so I reach for the nearest cop out and I find it in Matthew Cuthbert. “Well”, I stutter, “Santa is an old man like Matthew Cuthbert. Like Matthew Cuthbert he is overweight and has a heart condition. Traveling to the warm, tropical countries is dangerous for his heart. He also depends on his reindeer to take him to do his deliveries and his reindeer can’t survive too long in warm countries.”
I realize that I have effectively “pooped” the party and broken a balloon. Since we move on quickly to other matters and leave the discussion about the Flightless Fat Old Fairy I cannot really say for sure that his cover has been blown. I do know, however, that my Granddaughter still loves me because she told me so.
When I think of the buffet in the Chemainus Theatre I still wonder though, why a small change in the degree of latitude where one lives should catapult a person from near the bottom rung of the eating ladder, from near the bottom of the human food chain to close to the top. I also wonder when and how we are going to break the balloons of myths and systems that keep us constantly replicating the disparities among us.
Break it to me gently Give me time, give me time to ease the pain. – Brenda Lee 1961
Post Scriptum, 2013:
- The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day has spawned another holy day in the family’s culture. Invented and defined, controlled and animated by our late Fairy Princess, the now blossoming veterinarian and cowgirl-in-the-saddle, Reina, Queen of our Heart’s Domain (her official title).
- The activities which have been prescribed by Her Highness, Queen of our Heart’s Domain still revolve around the Chemainus Theatre presentation.
When the doors open for one of the presentation of It’s a Wonderful Life we will take our seats and once again be wrapped in the warmth of the season, enveloped in the radiant and idealized glow of a happy childhood, and again feeling a bit uncomfortable digestively and otherwise from the excesses of the season.
Reina’s Post #2
Blogovus: Reina’s Summer Camp: Hostage in a Granddaughter’s Dream: Help!
Posted on July 12, 2015 by Caribbean Roots Canada
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Arbutus Meadows, Island Classic Show Jumping 2015
(A Cute Infection of the Brain)
Oh the places you’ll go: To a horse jumping show
With a granddaughter’s lead
You’re gawking at steeds
And waking up early
To follow a girlie
Though no clothing she lacks
She keeps shopping for tack.
This condition I fear will infect us,
The virus I hear is infectious
And the family’s fright is
We’ll all get a fever
The symptom of
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Reina’s Post #3
A Courageous Athlete Is
Track and Field