A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Daddy Debrief: Heirlooms

by David DeWitt   
A few nights ago during after-dinner conversation with friends, Erin was poking fun at things that I have held onto over the years. Two manual typewriters, a small film projector, and a couple of vintage sewing machines usually get honorable mention during these discussions. If it goes on long enough, my box of childhood toys will come up.

On this night it was books she’d noticed while rearranging the shelves. She pulled out a few to show our friends. Invitation to a Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana got a pretty good laugh.

Then some papers fell out of it onto the floor. They were things from my early childhood that I had forgotten about ,and for a moment I was baffled at how they ended up there.

Then I remembered one weekend in the basement at my parents house, searching for something with my Dad in his old metal filing cabinet that he’s been feeding with papers and clippings since I can remember.

In our search for whatever was so important, I saw a few of my childhood drawings sticking out of a folder. Thumbing through them, I found a letter that I wrote to Santa when I was around five or six.
I still don’t know how that got in there because I distinctly remember putting a stamp on it and my Mom saying she would mail it.

I took the letter and several of my favorite drawings and tucked them into a nice big hardcover book I knew I would never get rid of. Invitation to a Royal Wedding.
David’s childhood letter to Santa. 

And here the letter was for a fresh reading. The Motorized Monsters Set, I have no recollection of wanting. I got the Hot Wheels race set, and the cowboy suit. The Smokey the Bear I still have in a box. He’s missing his hat, one eye and a great deal of his fur.

On Sunday Finn abruptly announced out of nowhere that he wanted a bike with a bell on it from Santa.

“Okay” we said. “Do you want to write him a letter?” “Oh…let’s just call him,“ he said “You want to FaceTime Santa?” I said. “No…actually,” he said, “I want to write Mrs. Claus.” “Really?” said Erin “Why is that?” “Then she could tell Santa to send me the bike,” he said.

Clearly he’s picked up on the chain of command.

He’s getting close to the age I was when I wrote that letter. And I can’t shield him from the disappointments that are bound to happen from not getting everything on his list some years.
I know it will happen. Just like the chemistry set that Santa wisely omitted from my list when I was six. Or the chimpanzee I wanted so desperately.

But hopefully there will be something like Smokey the Bear that he’ll remember cuddling and torturing and doctoring that will some day earn a place of honor in a very nice shoe box.
Next to two old typewriters and a vintage sewing machine.

David DeWitt is a painter, writer, and dad. He lives in Ulster County with his wife Erin and three year old son, Finn. To read David’s blog on art and fatherhood, visit daviddewitt.com.