ONE INCOMPARABLE CHRISTMAS

M A G P I E à la modus operandi

There was this dog we loved and lost on Christmas morning, 1951.

It changed everything.

We lived in a clapboard farmhouse then, built a hundred years earlier and insulated with Civil War era newspapers layered between the rafters and floorboards. It was a rickety-rackety place that sweltered in the summer and shivered in the winter when no amount of coal heaved into the basement furnace could sufficiently heat the cast iron radiators, or warm the boiler of bath water. The windows rasped with the wind, the floors creaked with the rain and the back door flew open unexpectedly.

“It’s just a spirit visiting,” mom would say, having given up on getting my father to replace the antiquated latch.

We were born in that house; three brothers, two sisters and I. Our childhood was spent clamoring up and down its winding stairs, playing board games on its covered porch, wishing on…

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