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I'll Be Home for Christmas
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"My mother and father spent most of their lives in Henderson, Nevada. The small, dusty sidecar of Las Vegas. Henderson was just like any other town in America, only with slot machines in the laundromat. It was 1990, and Vegas was boomin', baby! But Jeanie and Terry weren't gamblers or dealers or mafiosos or lounge singers. They were just two normal people trying to keep up with the pack in a one-hundred-and-sixteen-degree rat race. And those rats; they'd nibbled long enough. Now, I don't know what a mosey looks like, but they packed up their house and their clothes and their me, and they moseyed on outta dodge. Of course, I had my gripes about leavin'. I mean, I had a life in Henderson. Kenny and Kevin Hebner were just two houses up. The desert fort behind my house wasn't gonna defend itself. But what could I do? I was nine. A nine-year-old can't just stage a sit-in while the rest of the family checks out. This wasn't a Home Alone movie, so... I went where the sweet'n'sour chicken was cooked, and the ice cold, caffeine-free Coke was just a fridge away. And just like that, from sagebrush, slot machines and Elvis to Footloose, Onion Days and Jewel. She was born there, after all. This place called Payson, Utah. God's country. Population: blink, and you'll miss it. Dad got a job in the produce department at the Smith's Food King, which was fitting since he managed to produce six kids: April, Shelley, Amy, Stephanie and my brother Shane were the other five. I was in fourth grade at the time, an age when boys start thinking more like men. And there wasn't a dull moment: I'd had my first fight, my first crush, my first rodeo, but most importantly my first white Christmas. I did my best to fit in, and I did as my teachers said, but that year one teacher stood out from the rest.

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