If you're going to break The Christmas Rules, don't settle for a misdemeanor: go for a full-out felony.
The ground was sprinkled white by the time we pulled up to Mom’s childhood home on Wilson Street in Winona. It looked like the coating of powdered sugar from the Embassy commissary that Mom shook to over our Norwegian Christmas cookies.
There stood a witch. A long horrible nose quivered in the middle of a face framed by stringy black hair. She opened her mouth, revealing a few yellow teeth and dark holes where other teeth should have been.
I spent two years in New York City, Victoria. Then came the second summer, in 1952, when I was home in Winona on vacation. The young man who was to become your grandfather and I met again after having been apart for those two years .. and the rest, as they say, in another history.
“So, you’re cheating,” Mom said, sitting back against her chair. She looked at me, tapping her fingers on the chair arms for what seemed like a very long time. Then, she folded her arms in front of her chest. I waited for the other shoe to drop.
The nomadic life of my youth taught me four things: 1) be at home where you are; 2) let go when it's time; 3) settle in fast; and 4) forget there's anywhere else to be. This cycle puts you right back at 1) being at home where you are.
Before Hispanic Heritage Month 2018 comes to a close, let me jump aboard with this declaration: I am half-Norwegian, one-quarter Scottish, one-quarter German ... and 100 percent Hispanic.
It was just the four of us again, Dad driving, Mom talking quietly to him, and Susie and I tucked into the back seat, me on the left side, her on the right side, headed off into an adventure. Instead of the Italian blue book country guide, Mom had an American map open on her lap; a hotel guide was at her feet.
Mom and Dad made their protocol farewell calls on the Ambassador and Mrs. Sparks and other senior diplomatic couples. They were fèted at our first “despedida,” a goodbye party routinely thrown by Embassy colleagues for departing friends; the “bienvenida” was the party counterpart to welcome new diplomats and their families into the Caracas Embassy.
In South Dakota, where my dad's from, you swim in a crick, you put a ruhf over your head and you set down ruhts. In the Foreign Service, where I'm from, they sent Dad and Mom and Susie and me back to his ruhts every few years to remind us that we were Americans. It was called Home Leave.