Christina Pearson at RAW Day in 2017. (David J. Brown photo.)
[Robert Anton Wilson's daughter, Christina Pearson, remembering past Christmases from the Wilsons. Reprinted by permission of the RAW Estate from the recent announcement that replicas of Robert Anton Wilson's spiral ring are now available for order. -- The Management]
A Wilson Christmas Tale…
Winter Greetings! This morning as I was carefully unwrapping our Christmas Tree ornaments, I began to contemplate the history of Christmas in our family. I also realized that the only area of my whole life that is actually organized, is how I treat these ornaments!
Looking back, it seemed that there were always catastrophes that occurred on a regular basis on holidays – like the time my father (Bob) was perched on a ladder putting the star up on top of a fully decorated 6 foot tree, only to have the ladder slide into the tree, and down the whole kaboodle went! It was QUITE the show - Bob yelling, the cat meowing, dog barking, my baby sister crying, Arlen (my mom) rushing in and adding to the hysteria… ah, yes!
Or while cooking holiday meals, my mom would wear totally outrageous (for cooking) clothing, that would inevitably have a big drooping hanging sleeve immersed in gravy, or catch fire, get stuck in the oven door; always something!
This morning as I thought back to calm and not-so-calm winter celebrations of Christmas, I remembered one in particular; I was 8 years old, we lived in New York City, and I was very, very sick. This was back in 1964. At the time, Bob was working for several tabloids, writing “junk,” as he called it, and we lived on the 11th floor of a big old apartment building on West End Avenue in Manhattan. We didn’t have much money, but my grandmother had died the year before, leaving a small inheritance amount to my mother and her sister.
This small inheritance had given Bob and Arlen the opportunity to move back to New York City, which they literally jumped at the chance to do; enough with the “back to the Land” phase, that had landed us in Ohio, back to the city where we belong! Just after being let out of school for the holiday break, I had come down with a terrible bout of Scarlet Fever as soon as we were let out of school for Christmas break Just figures… Anyway, it was Christmas Eve, and I was burning up with a very high fever. The doctor had already come and gone, making a house call (yes, they really used to do this!) in the middle of the night to assess me and administer medication. Mom had me lying on the couch in the living room, so she could keep an eye on me and give me regular sponge baths in an attempt to bring down my temperature.
I remember very little, except I was super ill, and something magical was happening! As I lay there on the couch, sweating and rolling incessantly, Bob was hard at work across the room. That night he built us a “Troll House!” I guess you could call it a doll house, but it really was for our little troll dolls that we loved dearly. And let me tell you something! My dad was SO not a good crafts person, even though he had been trained as an engineer. He took 6 similar cardboard boxes, and attached them so three were on top, and three below. He then “wallpapered” the inner walls with an assortment of patterned papers, ran a string of Christmas lights through as ceiling lights, and cut little doors in between the “rooms.” When you stood back, what you saw was 6 rooms, fully open to you.
During this unusual production of Bob’s (he did NOT generally try to do any type of crafty projects), I do remember hearing a lot of strange sounds emerging from him as he struggled to get these box rooms in order; at the time it seemed totally normal for him to be growling… squealing, and randomly swearing; but looking back, it may have been my fever but I will never know for sure!
My parents then proceeded to fill each room with little toy furniture, with Arlen periodically running over to the couch to bathe my whole body with rubbing alcohol. For me, I was swimming in the scent of the alcohol, while my eyes were dazzled by the little blinking tree lights now adorning our “doll-house.” It was the most magical thing I had ever seen, and it was the night I learned that Santa Claus was really my parents.
Interestingly enough, it was not a disappointment or let-down to discover the truth about Santa; instead I could FEEL the love rolling off them both as they worked to care for me and create this little fantasy doll-house in honor of the Celebration of Light being born in the midst of Darkness.
I treasure this memory, however distorted it was from my illness; that night I learned about love manifesting as action, a lesson I have never forgotten.
All my love, Christina