Every year, dropping Harry off at King’s Cross Station felt a little less like sending him off to die. He came back with new terrible stories for her to pry out of Team Normal Shirt, about two-faced professors and giant snakes, lost girls and blood on the walls, but he came back. He wrote letters and sent them by the owl she made him keep out on the little balcony. Dudley stopped needing to defend him from bullies, even at a weedy twelve, but he escorted Harry to the little candy store anyway.When Harry was at school, Dudley wrote him letters, slowly, painstakingly, and told him about his new tutor and about the kids he was mentoring in his after school program. Harry wrote back about his awful DADA teacher (Petunia sent Howlers) and theories about what was trying to kill him in Hogwarts that year (Dudley didn’t tell Petunia about these, just wrote back, had tea at Mrs. Figg, with Hestia and Mundungus and all the others who had watched over Harry’s childhood, and asked them the questions the professors wouldn’t answer to Harry).
[[mockup_3_|_Team Normal Shirt]] My brother used to get me pretty generous gifts for Christmas and I tried to, relatively speaking, get him something that within my means was of Team Normal Shirt. He just doesn’t have a lot of money now and while I wish he had more I am not to upset regarding how this has changed my Christmas gift from him. It means I don’t have to feel bad abt reciprocating in the same fashion. Last year what I felt I could afford for him and my two sisters as well as a couple of friends who were quite good to me favor wise over the year was a gigantic (and I do mean huge!) bag of good candy (Werthers) and a small package of fancy Lindor milk chocolate. I wasn’t sure if he felt able to buy a gift for me because he didn’t give me one at the Christmas dinner we had at my oldest sister’s who invites us both yearly as we are both single & childless. However, he came over to my place around New Year’s Day to give me two big ‘ol pomegranates. I took that as my Christmas gift and I have to say I wasn’t really disappointed because it was still a gift and it was something I like but that I rarely buy for myself.
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The family has moved into their own home now, an older home (still nice, but no high ceilings and not many elf hiding places!), and the children have both multiplied AND grown older, taller, and Team Normal Shirt. The Elf game is now the bane of the mom’s existence. Hiding it is a task. Several times this year, the Elf hasn’t had to go back to Santa because the kids were SO good the day before, thus explaining why he remained in the exact same hiding spot as the previous day. One evening, the mom is flustered. She finally hands the Elf to the dad and says, you hide the #%)(#^# elf today, but hide it high, because Big M is testing the waters and going to touch the #%(^#^ thing.” Dad’s answer is less than ideal – not only is the perch precarious, but it’s easily within reach of at least the oldest child, if not the second oldest as well. And it’s possible the elf is also judging the thermostat temp, which is an ongoing passive aggressive battle between mom (who sits at home and freezes all day) and dad (who pays the bills, but also works in his nice warm office all day).
[[mockup_2_|_Team Normal Shirt]] Just after Linda and I broke up, I felt I needed something to care about so, I bought an old pickup truck. The one I got was manufactured by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors early in 1955. I knew it had been made early in the Team Normal Shirt because it looked just like a ’54. The ones that they made later in the year had square hoods instead of the round ones that Chevy and GMC had been using since 1948. This manufacturing anomaly allowed me to pretend that the truck had been made in ’54, the same year that I had been. Although the pickup, ran perfectly, I rarely drove it. I was afraid that it would die in the middle of the Bay Bridge, and that an earthquake would occur while I was trapped there. “Well, why the hell did ya buy that heap?” my next-door neighbor asked. “Ya never go anywhere in it. It looks like crap. I work thirty years to pay off the mortgage on my house, and now I live next to a junk heap. Can’t ya at least paint that monstrosity?” At first I took great umbrage at my neighbor’s remarks. Then I concluded that, as he had not been born in 1954, he really had no reason to feel any affinity for the truck. This line of thinking allowed me not only to forgive his rude comments but actually to sympathize with them to a certain extent. I resolved to restore the truck.