|So this is the Campbe ll Family Christmas of 05 in Indianapolis,
Indiana. You may wonder: "Why not Christmas of 06?"
Here's the reason. Lori and I have a kitty by no kiddies, so we go to
where the kiddies are, and Moo-the-Cat gets left behind. (Moo's
grumpy about this and you can read about it on her blog, which is
But the kiddies are spread out. My family gathers in Indianapolis
because that's where one set of kiddies are. In fact, members of my
family, who live in Florida, leave the Sunshine State in the middle of
winter to make this pilgrimage to Indianapolis to see the kiddies.
But Lori's family and a separate set of kiddies lives in Alabama. So on
alternating years we go to Indianapolis or Alabama. 2006 was
Alabama and you can see those pictures on Lori's family she ever
gets around to it.
Indiana was a culture shock to me. I've always lived on the East
Coast -- from Fort Lauderdale to Boston -- never more than a mile
or two from the ocean. Indiana is one of those land-locked "in-there"
states that I had only seen through the windows of an Amtrak train
as we traveled to some western destination. My first glimpse of
Indiana was back around 2002 when we pulled up to an Amtrak
station in a small Indiana town as we traveled to Glacier Park.
It was summer. A single person got off at this stop, but there were
people lined up in lawn chairs, sipping from tall glasses -- I assume of
iced tea or lemonade -- who waved us in and then watched us go.
Many waved tiny American flags.
I wanted so badly to jump out and ask: "Why did you bring lawn
furniture to the train station and just hang out? Why did you bring
flags to wave at us as we pulled in and when we left? Why do you live
here at all?" But it was a short visit. A young woman got off, hugged
her parents, the doors to the train closed and -- "pfffffft" -- we were
But in my visits to Indiana since then, it all kind've makes sense.
They have a sense of community not enforced by the closeness of
space -- like Boston or DC -- but a genuine neighborliness borne of
the harsh conditions of an "in-there" state where you simply must
look out for each other.
And they like their duckpin bowling in downtown Indianapolis, where
most of this takes place. So now meet the cast of characters:
- Casey, my niece, is this bundle of both mental and physical
energy like some weird Newtonian mutant. Newton said: "A
body in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an
external force." Casey is never at rest and there seems no
external force that can slow her down. Even asleep, I don't
think she's a body at rest. Oddly, Jamie (my sister and Casey's
Mom, who you will meet in a moment), seems more tired than
I remember. I think she is stuck in a weird "Conservation of
Energy Loop," since Casey's infinite energy has to come from
somewhere else if the universe is to stay in order.
- My Mom is a retired airline employee. I can sum her up this
way. Once, driving back from her job at Eastern Airlines, she
picked up a young male hitchhiker from England. It was raining
and he looked hungry. She brought him home, fed him and
made him our guest for a week or two. As it turned out, he was
a very nice guy, but she couldn't have known that at the time.
(He challenged us to a "name the states game." None of us got
all 50 U.S. States but the FREAKING guy from England filled
in all of our blanks for us). But this kind of sums Mom up. She is
kind. She trusts people. And the god of Unitarians, Quakers
and general believers in the goodness of mankind seems to
protect her. Nowadays, she is a library volunteer, a card-
carrying member of the ACLU and a chef extraordinaire!
- Auntie Reeta is a 21st-Century soul in search of the
stimulation of the 14th Century Renaissance -- and finds it
wherever she goes, from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico to Hawaii
to Italy to France to Japan to upper New York state to Florida
and other destinations to drool over. She's an artist, jeweler,
fashion designer, store owner (where she showcased her own
designs), health care worker, opera spear carrier, language
teacher, den-mother for actors, world traveler and inveterate
reader and thinker. A conversation with Reeta is always
demanding, but never dull.
- Ethan, my nephew, loves his sport jerseys, loud toys and
terrorizing my Dad (who you will meet in a moment as well).
He combined most of these particular fascinations on this
particular Christmas, to wake up me and Lori on Christmas
Day. (Casey helped as well, following Ethan to our temporary
basement abode playing the violin. This is why Lori and I
DON'T have children!)
- Uncle Billy is this weird force of nature. He's retired Navy,
retired firefighter and now inveterate roller coaster rider --
preferably wooden roller coasters. He travels around the
country and world to ride roller coasters spreading the gospel
that roller coaster's could 'beeeee' the new mass transit
because this would add a certain 'weeee' factor to the morning
commute. Makes sense to me!
- Jamie's my sister and one of my best friends. When we were
kids we had this incredibly competitive uncle who loved games.
One a game was "Password," where partners give each other
one-word clues to guess a certain word. If you got it on the first
word, you scored a 10. Jamie and I scored 10 so often, he
wouldn't play with us any more. We don't see each other that
often, but talk on the phone about our jobs, politics and life in
general. Jamie's passionate about here work and can swear a
blue streak when provoked. (I used to work on a commercial
fishing boat and Jamie can -- and has outsweared -- my
captain, Billy. You'll meet him later).
- My Dad is a study in complements and contradictions.
Depends how you look at it. Do these things go together? He
has the body of a fullback, which he was, but the heart of a
poet, which he is. He was born and raised on a farm and had a
horse named Rex. Yet his preferred mode of transportation
was always classic British sports cars -- an MGB, TR3 or
Jaguar. (Don't see those on the farm). And the occasional
muscle car (Pontiac GTO convertible) and even now, a VW
convertible. Loves Wagner. Hates rock music. Yet when my
sister and I were still listening to AM bubble gum music, he
brought the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers into the house -- pronounced
it good -- and suddenly The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Tull, the
Stones, Zeppelin etc., all followed, much to his regret.
- Joe, my brother in law, is not pictured here. SORRY JOE! I
don't have any good photos of you from Christmas. But go over
to the Joe and Jamie page and there you are!