15 December 2011

Just around the corner

I’ve searched everywhere I possibly can, except for my hometown newspaper archives, which are 900 miles away, and I can’t find the Christmas story I wrote back in about 1982. So I’m going to try to rewrite it as best I can. Maybe this version will turn out even better than the yellowed newspaper clipping gathering dust somewhere in my basement.

The Snowcatching Lizard Cycling Museum (aka the basement)

Grandma’s house was magical. I could stick a piece of white paper in a tray of water in a big, long sink in a room with a funny colored light, swish the paper around with tongs, and the paper would turn into a photograph! Cereal at Grandma's house had tiny colored marshmallows. And at Christmastime, her tree had candle-shaped lights that bubbled!

Grandma’s house always had wonderful smells. In the mornings, before the sun came up, we could smell the freshly pressed corduroy she would iron for Grandpa before he went to work. Grandma had a drawer full of beautifully shaped and ornately decorated bottles of perfume, and she always let me pick which one to sprinkle onto the freshly washed hankies edged with her delicate hand-crocheted lace and sometimes decorated with her detailed silk embroidery. And at Christmastime, Grandma’s house always smelled of homemade gingerbread.

Of course, the pleasure of decorating the gingerbread houses was reserved for us kids, as was licking the bowl when we were done.

Christmas Day in Crested ButteEach year, there was a trip to the mall and a visit with a jolly old man in red with a real white beard.

One year, I asked Santa for a bicycle. All the kids in my neighborhood rode their bikes to school, and they’d ride up and down the street after school. My turquoise strap-on rollerskates with a key no longer fit, and it was time for two wheels.

“Have you been good?” the old man asked after I whispered in his ear.

“Oh, yes, Santa, I have been very good! I make my bed, and I pick up my toys. I help Grandma hang the clothes on the line in the backyard, and I always clean my plate.”

“Well, then,” Santa replied, “I think you should look for a very special package beneath the tree on Christmas morning."

I just knew I’d have a shiny, red bike on Christmas morning! I could barely keep my feet on the floor as I rushed to tell Grandma the good news.

“Oh,” she responded, “Christmas is still just around the corner!”

The days seemed to take too long, and I impatiently asked Grandma every day, sometimes more than once a day, “How much longer until Christmas?”

Always, she gave the same response.

“Christmas is just around the corner, Sweetie.”

Finally, I could no longer contain myself. The boys were in the tub, splashing away, and Grandma was busy trying to keep the water off the floor. Grandpa was golfing. Dad was at work. No one was watching.

So out the door I snuck, closing it behind me, ever so softly. Down the street I skipped. Around the corner I peered. Nothing but houses.

Well, maybe it wasn’t the right corner. I skipped another block. Around the corner I peeked. Cars whooshed by, but there was something across the street. I had to get closer.

I looked left, I looked right. I waited. I looked left again, I looked right, and across the street I darted. Down the grassy slope into a big, huge parking lot, filled with cars and undecorated Christmas trees and people rushing to and fro. I walked toward the big building, and the closer I got, the better I could see.

There, right in front of the big glass entryway, was a whole row of bright red shiny bicycles!

On my heels I turned, and off I ran, still carefully checking left and right before crossing the busy street. I ran all the way back to Grandma’s house, slowly pushed open the door, then gently closed it behind me. I peered into the hallway, where Grandma was wrapping warm, oversized towels around my soaked little brothers.

“Where have you been?” she asked me, turning with her hands on her hips, the universal signal for, “You’ve been caught, Little Missy!”

“I found Christmas!” I gushed.

“Oh,” Grandma said, chuckling, a familiar twinkle in her eye, “Christmas is still just around the corner!”

But I knew! I had seen it! Christmas truly was just around the corner!

Lost my derailleur atop the Grand Mesa on Day 2 of the 2010 Ride the Rockies, so I needed a new bike...


  1. Oh Deb, I don't know which I enjoyed more, the story or the beautiful bike! Thank you!!!

  2. Oh what a delightful story, and one that should be wrapped up for other little girls and boys to read year after year! Why is it that my best memories of childhood is also from all the moments with one of my special grandmothers? Those memories (like just what you posted here) go through my head all the time..especially when you catch that certain scent that brings you right back. I only hope and pray that my own grandchildren will have these same kinds of memories...Life is so filled with joy watcing through their eyes of excitement and eagerness for life and all that magic that is just around the corner....in everything we do! Okay, now do you serve hankies with this post too?!!!!

  3. The story is a warm, glowing insight into the chapters of your life book. Wonderful to know you had a talented, creative Grandma to nurture your inquisitive side!

    Love your story- and the bike. You are certainly one of a kind, Deb. A very special, wonderful kind.

  4. A great story and an even greater bicycle! How neat!

  5. I loved the story! I come every Monday and print out your snowflake patterns but something drew me here today and I am so glad. Thanks for the story.

    Now, how about the pattern for the bike??

  6. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. Brought a smile to my face and my heart. Blessings.

  7. I tried to find your story, too!!!! I want to go to THAT Grandma's house!
    You never disappoint me with your writing. Nope. Never.

  8. Can you see me smiling from there? Your story is wonderful. I love it - the literal interpretation of "just around the corner" and that, even back then, bicycles represented everything good to you (me too!)!

  9. Is it shameful that I'm still drooling over the top photo? (Yes, very shameful. I can only blame it on Riding Season Withdrawals.)

    What a fun and touching story. I don't think the yellowed clipping could be any better than this. I wish I could have known your Grandma - she sounds wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing that very special memory with us.

    P.S. I think Christmas has moved from around the corner to your basement! I see that you are enthusiastic supporters of Wisconsin cycle-making. We visited the Trek factory in Waterloo years ago, and what a fun tour it was.

    P.P.S. I forgot to tell you that Mr. M greatly admires your Specialized frame. "Classic" and "perfect" were two of the words he used.

  10. Thank you, everyone! The comments on this post have really lifted my spirits, this being the busiest, and thereby most stressful, time of the year for me.

    Brenda, a pattern may take quite a while. The Lizard has been waiting two years now for me to make HIS bike!

    Sue, all of those bikes except the Specialized belong to The Lizard, although he lets me ride the blue Cannondale on the trainer in winter. He says trainers are hard on bikes, so only retired bikes go on the trainers. So only two of the bikes in the photo are NOT retired, my Specialized, which just had a new life breathed into it when The Lizard replaced my bottom bracket, and his Madone, which I believe did indeed come from your Waterloo!

    Oh, and you inspired this rewrite with your own Christmas memories!!! Thank YOU!!!

  11. what a fabulous story. You have brightened my day.

  12. Both a lovely story and a beautiful bike :)


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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