12 Plays of Christmas: Memory Is The Liar That Whispers Fantastic Pasts In Our Ears (a true story…I think)


There’s a Christmas-adjacent story I’m fond of telling, that hand on heart I swear is true, about a girl I met in a park during a blizzard.

Before I go any further, I need to let you know that I’m probably older than a good many of you who will read this and there are miles and miles of memories between now and when the incident occurred, so the sad fact of the matter is I don’t remember what she looked like. Not exactly. In my fading memory’s defense, I only saw the bit of her frosty red face that was nestled within the fur ring of her hooded parka.

And I’ll admit that my recollection of events might be slightly dramatized and infused with more schmaltzy innocence and devil may care fun, as we built a snow fort to defend ourselves from the invading snow army, but it happened, the girl was real and not some imaginary snow playmate—I’ve had plenty of those and I know the difference—and a good time was had by all…or at least by me.

The memory gets more Michael Bayish with each retelling. It takes on mass and bulks up and challenges me to become a better liar in order to bear its additional weight. But am I actually a liar? If the current version records over the initial memory on the VHS tape in my mind and all I have left is the most recent telling, then I am relaying events as I recall them, no? And why shouldn’t I drape this memory with grace so that it might straighten its back and hold its head higher, as it strolls amongst my other remembrances? I am one of only two people who possess this memory and since I cannot verify that the other party is holding up their end, it’s my sworn duty to keep it alive, embellishments and all.

Just before Christmas vacation, it started out as one of my favorite kinds of schooldays, you know, where you wake up and the world outside is completely white and Alice Cooper’s voice is singing on a continuous loop in your head, “School’s out for-ever!” as you do your victory dance in front of the icy window.

What was that? Just me, then? All right. Good to know.

Anyhoo, after lying about leaving my books at school—thereby avoiding studying to get ahead of the class (perish the thought)—and breezing through my chores, I ventured forth into snowmageddon and discovered… no one else was outside. Oh, sure, people were attempting to dig their cars out, but none of my friends, hell, no one my age was visible in the dense thundersnow.

Cowards, the lot of them!

Undaunted—I wasn’t going back inside, not on a free day like this—I trekked to the local park and that was when I saw The Girl. Out on her lonesome, rolling the lower portion of a snowman-to-be with all the intensity of a Winterland Victoria Frankenstein.

When she eventually caught sight of me, she stopped and glared, trying to suss me out. Was I friend or foe? We stood there for ages, still as statues, locked in a silent Mexican Stare Off. She was determined, this one, to wait me out. She had staked claim to this park and I was the trespasser. If we were ever going to come to an accord, I’d have to make the first move. So, I did the only thing I could do in that situation…

I began rolling the middle portion for her snowman. That seemed to be good enough for her.

You ask me what her name was? Well, there are only two words that come to mind when I think about her: amber and hazel. So, either her name was Amber and she had hazel eyes, or she was an amber-eyed Hazel. Perhaps even something in between like Hazamberel or Amhazelber? I can’t rule any options out at this point.

The park was ours and ours alone, we two intrepid children of The Bronx. We laughed in the face of the snowpocalypse and frolicked—as much as our starfish overlayering would allow—and built an ominous snow army that we waged snow war against, plowed through the snow soldiers, and beat them down to the ground, before turning on each other in the snowball fight to end all snowball fights, tried to sled downhill on a ratty piece of cardboard, discovered how truly fast squirrels are when we tried to catch one, marveled at how far trees could bend under the weight of snow and made a pact to be friends forever.

I learned that day that pacts are not unbreakable—I never saw Hazamberel again—and just how like a delicate snowflake a memory was.

Not a terribly exciting story to hear, I realize, but I’m not telling it for your enjoyment. I tell it so that I don’t lose it and so that it doesn’t fade any more than it already has from the weathers of time or become trapped and freezes to death in the hedge maze like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

That’s part of the duty we owe to our past, to not only remember it but become the architects and build up the bits of foundation that have crumbled away due to neglect.

So, please stop me if I’ve told you this one before, but once, when I was younger, I met a girl in a blizzard, at least I think it was snowing, maybe it was rain, and her name was some sort of color, Vermillion or Fuchsia, maybe…

40 responses to “12 Plays of Christmas: Memory Is The Liar That Whispers Fantastic Pasts In Our Ears (a true story…I think)

  1. Loved how you worked a Michael Bay and The Shining references into an innocent tale of a snow day. Nice work there, gramps (said with non-ageist love because of your penchant of referring to me as “kiddo”).


  2. You mention how like a delicate snowflake a memory was, well, some friendships are like that too. Hazamberel (please don’t let that be this girl’s actual name) served her purpose. You needed a playmate on a snow day and found one. Wish fulfilled. Nice share.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, Suranne, and I’ve come to believe that some people come into your life for one moment in time to fill a temporary void or to alter your path ever so slightly in a different direction.

      In revisiting this memory, I was hit with one of those late in life realizations that at some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time, and nobody was aware of it.

      Ah, bittersweet nostalgia.

      Cheers for the read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post made me miss being a kid. I miss making duct tape wallets, spinning rulers on top of pencils, playing tag on the playground, having contests to see who could swing the highest, trading lunches, the feeling of last day of school. But what I really miss is my innocence. Thanks for reminding me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those were the days, weren’t they? When you had faith that teachers had your best interest at heart, when dating meant you shared school supplies and held hands, when the worries of the world falling apart couldn’t even come near you, when the only real threat in school was if someone called you out to fight near the bike racks at three o’clock, when we thought high schoolers were cool and we couldn’t wait to be one. I miss my childhood, too, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I felt this one. And you’re right, nostalgia can sometimes be bittersweet in the sense that I really really do miss all things mentioned in the comments and I wish I could experience the innocence and fun again. But I am also happy knowing that I’m able to smile and relate to those memories because it means I had them and I couldn’t be more grateful.
    You’re a dangerous man, MADD FICTIONAL, always bringing the feels. Thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Remember when we thought we had all the time in the world and life was moving slowly, now we know our time is short and life is moving fast. Enjoy those memories but enjoy the present as well because they’ll be future memories one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rhyan, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this girl from your halcyon days of childhood still remembers this particular snow day… There is magic in childhood, and those of us who are extremely lucky still have a bit of that faerie dust sprinkled in our hair. All I can say is that if I spent a snowy day in a park in the Bronx with a girl like that, I’d remember her forever, too. You are so blessed to have this recollection, and I feel blessed that you’ve shared it with us. As for Mr. Cooper, yeah, I’m old enough to remember that song! *jams air guitar* 😀 This memory is wonderful and pierces the heart in a good way. *tips ski cap* 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • In a perfect, author-penned world she would accidentally stumble on this post, thinking that she was the only person who remembered the event and she would get in touch with me and point out all the things I misremembered about that day and reintroduce me to the things I had forgotten entirely. And our pact would remain intact. I’d meet her family and have a snowball fight to end all snowball fights with her children.

      Sigh, I live too much inside my own mind sometimes.

      Anyhoo, cheers for the read and comment, as always, they’re both greatly appreciated, Mike!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A lovely recollection of what sounds like a time filled with fun. I like how at the beginning you note that the story shifts with each telling. An advantage of those memory-stories of elasticity. We can make them more dangerous, more epic, more whatever 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the thing about magical moment, at the time they just seem like moments. As a kid I rationalized it as “Of course someone my age, an absolute stranger, is in the park during a snowstorm and of course they want to play with me” because that was the natural order of things.

      Thank you, Dave, for not only reading but taking the time to comment. It means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I used to love snowy days as a kid. Now I can’t even stand ‘slightly cold’. And building snowmen was something I loved to do. Though I wasn’t really good at it. And I remember climbing mounds of snow that lay at the center of parking lots or the sides of the road and believing that I was a great conqueror. I think you connected with another child who needed some company. And it was an unexpected but delightful snowy adventure. Memories are really all we have. And in my case, they fade with each passing day. Loved this one, Rhyan. Your humor is wonderful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you there, Terveen. I’m of the age where snow is more of an inconvenience and less a wonderland to frolic in. Back then, one of the best things about coming indoors after playing in the snow until fingers and toes were numb, was settling down to a nice mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, or grilled cheese and tomato soup.

      Cheers for the read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This gave me so many feels. Nevermind if you’ve told this story thousand times within different embellished versions through the years. Nostalgia beautiful. Never stop. Hope you are well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have read that each time we recall a memory, that recollection becomes the memory, and will be slightly different from the last remembering, until over time, the actual incident we remember may be substantially different than our memory of it. (I’m a dinosaur, so I’m sure it’s happened to me.) But the core of it remains the same, and the feelings it evoked are unchanged. I have many wonderful memories of my childhood, and though they may have gotten a bit off-kilter, I treasure them just the same. Sounds like you do as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in the Jurassic club myself, KT, and I’ve heard a similar theory, that memories aren’t precise like a quote, they’re more of a paraphrase, that are reconstructed for each recollection and sometimes contain bits of other memories unassociated with the original event. The only thing that remains constant are the feelings they evoke.

      I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I loved this. I remember thinking the same thing as you, just mine was the song from Grease. I remember playing in the snow for hours and only coming in because my mother was convinced I would freeze to death. I remember the fun. Miss it.

    You brought it back for a moment. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Coming out of lurking since I enjoyed this so much. I’m on the oldish side myself and find it amazing how long buried memories pop up all of a sudden. The brain is an interesting organ.
    As for telling it differently: you’re a writer and storyteller and have the skill to transform an ordinary event into a little gem of laughter, nostalgia and wisdom. And you’ve been besties forever for one day. It highlights the importance to appreciate the moment, smell the roses or throw the snowball.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it amazing how many one-day-besties we used to have as kids? I know I’m not covering any new ground here but it’s a crying shame that things can’t be as simple as that anymore. Instant friends, even if only for a day. I need to find a way to pitch that on Shark Tank.

      Anyway, cheers for popping out from behind the lurk-curtain long enough to share your thoughts. It’s greatly appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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