There were the back stairs we were never allowed to use, from the kitchen to master bedroom, layered with cluster flies and coathooks overloaded with 1960s and early 1970s apparel. All the coats that we no longer wore. My pre-school brown jacket with fringes, or my father’s from Kemptville Agricultural College.
The last time he took a train, he told me, thirty years later, was coming home from Kemptville College in 1961.
The stairs we or just I would sneak through and around, tearing through the house in the way children do, but only allowed once a year to then use them, for Christmas. Once she knew we or just I awake, my mother would collect and walk us down, for the sake of avoiding the living room with stockings and such; for the sake of having to wait for him to come in from morning chores and go in as a group. Waiting sometimes so long for him to eat breakfast and put another log in the wood furnace, it was the longest I had waited for anything in my entire life, before and then since.
A living room stocking of Clementine oranges, socks and underwear, small toys and trinkets, and a Lifesavers Book, back when boxes of such held ten rolls, and not eight or then six.
I would always save the peppermint roll for last, since I liked those least. I really didn’t like them at all, but what child imagines ever giving away candy?