By John R. Greenwood
Bury the skunk is not a title you’d normally attach to a nostalgic Christmas story, but then again, normal is a word that doesn’t seem to fit anything these days. Using Christmas story to describe it is also a stretch. A better explanation is that I found this little note just a few days before Christmas 2021. I was straightening up my tool bench when I opened an old tobacco tin filled with my father’s memorabilia. The note above was folded in half and tucked in the bottom. As I unfolded it I was reminded of the day I found it under my windshield wiper at work. I had probably just returned from a twelve hour day delivering a tractor trailer full of Stewart’s product somewhere in the far reaches of New York State. I was in my forties and probably looking like they say, “rode hard and put away wet.” Dad’s health was not great at the time. He could still drive and mow the lawn on his John Deere riding mower, but digging a hole to bury a deceased yard-skunk was not something he could manage. By this point in his life he’d realized some tasks were best left to his dutiful son. By this point in my life, I’d realized it wasn’t worth questioning dad’s requests, you simply nodded and complied. That roof over my head for the first eighteen years didn’t pay for itself.
I don’t remember the details of the skunks demise or the funeral proceedings, but I do remember why I saved this little scrap of paper. I saved it for moments like this. Those little pauses in life where you reflect on all the tiny scraps that combined to make a life worth living. The simple joys, the tearful losses, the cherished memories that weaved a giant patchwork quilt bursting with good people and laughter. The pauses you hold dear to your heart. The ‘bury the skunk’ notes and the Pharaoh Lake fishing trips. I miss my parents. I even miss the not-so-great times that were mixed in the middle. Those are the ones that help you embrace the isn’t-life-grand moments.
I’ve been a lucky man. My Christmas shows up 24/7/365 in all shapes and sizes. As I placed dad’s little note back in the bottom of the tobacco tin I realized that sometimes burying a skunk can smell like a bed of roses.
May your 2022 be filled with notes of joy!