My first memory is actually earlier than listening to Andy Williams in the car. Or of learning about Santa's helpers. My very first memory comes from when I was about five and I was in a sleeping bag. It was warm and plush and comfy. My sister, Elise, was tucking me in and I can still remember the way her platinum blond hair swung lightly and brushed my neck. She stroked my back and, even with my eyes closed, I could see her smile. I was the most important person in the world in those moments and it felt good, I didn’t' realize the words of what it felt like then, but it felt divine to be loved in such a tactile way.
This was our family tent - a big ol' green army-surplus style thing that could house seven to eleven people - and we camped with some regularity when I was young. Our family still goes to Jackson, Wyoming every August to run the river and sleep in tents (and trailers) and gather around a fire.
I've missed many of those camp trips, including the one this year. I was stuck out here in Oz (aka New York). I always notice the time I've missed at camp.
These days, camping and otherwise, I am far from the center of the universe. No one is tucking me into bed or stroking my back, though my nephew, True, might do something like it to tease me. "Good Uncle Jason. What a good good good Uncle Jason." Cackling all the while.
Last year True and I bought these great big thatched Asian hats as our "River hats." They were gigantic but they also fit our heads. We never actually wore them on the river, but we enjoyed the idea.
Anyway, that's one of my first memories. Camping. My dad was always taller then. He wore light blue jeans and some sort of collared shirt and cared little about his appearance. He laughed a lot. Smiled more than that. And loved playing with his children.
I miss these things too.