Christmas Cashews


This was written August 7th 2013. This is another dream I had. I tend to have rather cinematic dreams, so I tend to write some of them down. As this is just a dream, this is also a first draft that hasn’t been edited or double-checked. This is how I wrote it down after it happened. Dreams can be kind of messy or all over the place so don’t be surprised if in any of these dream stories, plots jump around or ideas are left open and unfinished- that’s just the nature of a dream. As well as being completely fantastical scenarios, the characters are all original to the dream world as well. Even the character I refer to as ‘me’ is only the one that the story followed or I saw as representing myself within the world, though I may not have experienced it with her eyes. She’s always her own character. All of the other characters are also original and not based on anyone I know. With that in mind, this is the dream I woke up from two hours ago about christmas, cashews, and community.


I was maybe ten or eleven years old when my family and I moved into a new house in a new town. My bedroom was gigantic. As you entered the room, I had a raised bed on the right (not too high, not sure if a bunk bed I shared with my sister or not), a large gaping window outlooking the small park across the street. Below the window was a raised platform that continued beyond the wall to the right where we were mostly storing spare papers and such. In front of that raised platform we had a cheap wooden couch that we bought from walmart. One of those collapsible futon like couches. On the left wall I had a giant tv, something like an old CRT in a wooden box, but huge and HD and LCD. To the left of that was my dresser with the vanity mirror and in the corner between that and the tv was a smaller hdtv, maybe 15 inches, that I assumed was broken. It was a giant room, the likes of which I’d never had before, but I loved it.

I quickly made friends with the slightly scruffy looking neighbor boy across the street, next to the small grassy area. We often played there. The park had a small building for city administrative things, some tables and benches, and a partially covered public barbeque area. That area was all to the right side of the small park and the city building was to the left, but behind that was what was important: a giant pine tree. Not as big at the one in Times Square that’s decorated and lit up for every christmas, but a big one nonetheless. It was secluded in the dead center of the park with smaller similar trees lining the sides of the park. When christmas time game, city hall had a small ceremony at the start of december to have volunteers light and decorate the tree. It was beautiful. It’s giant glory stood for everyone to see and enjoy, despite their faiths. It was a symbol of the community coming together and a symbol of hope and love to celebrate the winter solstice and bring in the new year. The whole ordeal was very moving to my mother and she would sometimes spin that small futon-couch around just to stare out my window at it at night, in plain view despite the fog, twinkling brightly. I wouldn’t learn quite how much it had affected her until the tree was mysteriously cut down in the middle of the night on christmas eve.

The entire town was devastated. They just stood around the cut branches and logs and said nothing. Some of the older people even silently wept. The stump stood nearly as tall as I did and was carved with all form of profanities and inappropriate drawings. It was a solemn christmas as everyone sat freezing at those benches and tables while some official from the city used a portable stove and some dispensers to make hot chocolate and coffee for everyone. My mother took it very hard and fell to her knees crying, a move that everyone seemed to sympathize with and not one person judged her for. My little sister gripped my hand tighter, asking if mommy would be ok, to which I quietly responded “yes, of course”. Oh, how wrong I was.

It all started one day before New Year’s when my friend and sister and I decided something had to be done. Everyone around town was apathetic and my mother was slowly going insane. She would mutter to herself as she frantically paced the house, sometimes holding a knife, while my dad would gently try to calm her down. She’d act as if she didn’t hear him and just keep muttering with a crazed look on her face as she paced and checked the sharpness of the blade with the pad of her thumb. The worst of it was when she’d come into my room and just stare. She’d stand there, motionless, like a zombie, just staring out that grand window to where the tree once stood, mouth gaping wide and eyes dull. She wouldn’t even respond when she got like that. I’d call to her and ask if she was alright, but she wouldn’t make a sound or even blink. She just randomly snapped out of it and went back to her pacing. Sometimes she’d be in that state for hours on end. I was afraid. Something had to be done. If that tree held such power over the people, something had to be done, and it could only have been done by us kids. The adults around town barely wanted to move. So my friend, sister, and I decided to do the only thing we could think of: plant a new tree.

We hiked down the street until we reached the flower shop and using some change we scrounged up, bought some pine tree seeds. We then ran over to the park and found that two ten year olds and an eight year old were no match for a giant tree stump, much less its roots. Setting the packet of seeds down in front of the stump, the discouragement settled in. What were we to do, just three kids? There was no point in this. It’d take at least fifty years for the new tree to match the old tree anyway, and someone will probably just cut it down again, right? While moping, the neighbor boy mindlessly carved away at the stump with his pocket knife, causing a small hole, and then an idea struck me. I ran home across the street and ran straight to the garage and took my dad’s best two pocket knives and a small hatchet and a saw, anything I thought would help, and ran as fast as I could back to the park. I threw the tools down right in front of the stump and my sister and friend, who’d used the old tree’s logs as seats, gave me an inquisitive look. I quickly explained my plan to an enthusiastic agreement from them and we began to get to work. As the first blade went into the stump, I could swear I heard a faint scream, but at the time, I thought it was my imagination. I had no idea what had happened back home until many, many years later. This is the story how my dad told it to me.

My mother was in my room once more in her vegetative state, staring at the stump across the street, with my dad pleading with her to come and sit down. He was the most worried of any of us about her behavior and when my dad saw us down at the park through the window, she finally spoke. She said, in a course voice, “stop them. Don’t let them cut me.” When my dad asked her what she was talking about, she suddenly jerked her head towards him; a devilish look upon her face. “Don’t. Let them. Cut. Me.” She spat these words out while slowly moving towards my dad, but what made him scream wasn’t the deranged and furious look on her face or the knife she was raising towards him, but the large cashew-shaped growth emerging from the back of her head. He said it was unreal; impossible. All he could do was plead with her and ask what was happening as he defended himself from her lunges; her repeated cry getting louder and more vicious every few moments. For an hour, my dad ran for his life and sustained many wounds before he managed to lock her in my room, where she gave up and just stared out that giant window at us, pounding and pounding on it, trying to get through, screaming dementedly. My dad called the police and requested an ambulance, but even the local police were so drained of energy that they had never shown up. By this point several hours had passed and several of the panes in that giant window were now cracked. According to my dad, at a point I can only assume coincided with us finishing our project at the tree stump, with one final scream of “DON’T CUT ME”, my mother had taken her knife to her own head, slowly severing the cashew-shaped growth. It fell to the floor and writhed, and with a loud scream of pain, my mother collapsed in a pool of her own blood. With the loud thumps on the floor and silence following it, my dad thought to check on her and opened the room to find her laying there. He took the knife from her stiff hand and saw the giant cashew growth wiggling around on the floor, and stabbed it. He stabbed it several times until it stopped moving. When it was dead, and he swears this is what happened, it vanished. It started collapsing into a strange bloody pile of skinned flesh and just… melted away. None of us have ever heard about such a thing happening anywhere before, despite our research, and because of this we never told the truth of what happened to any official or anyone we weren’t sure would believe us.

My friend and sister and I finished our task and completely proud of our work, ran home to tell mom and dad. What we walked into was a scene in the kitchen with my mother having a bloody crude bandage wrapped around her hands and her head and my dad putting some of her fingers on ice and getting ready to leave for the hospital. My dad told me that she’d had a major accident with the knife and not to go into my room until he got back, but the moment he left, that was naturally the first thing we did. There was blood on the floor and splattered on the walls and furniture, and the window panes were nearly destroyed. We began cleaning it unquestioningly. It took quite a long time to get the blood stains out of the carpet, but we managed to do it with help from the internet. When we finished, we just looked through our cracked window at our handiwork- our crudely carved christmas tree. Realizing we left the tools down there, we went back and began the cleanup.

By now it was fairly late, about nine-thirty, but the lights were on at the park giving us plenty of light to work with as we cleaned up all of the shavings and arranged the logs of the old tree around the carved stump like seats. People driving by slowly stopped and watched, looking at our carved tree. Soon after, people began showing up by the dozen. All of those families and city officials had heard or seen what we’d done and come by to have a look. In the center of the park stood not the old vibrant christmas tree from before, but a new one that stood just over four feet tall, carved out of the old one’s stump. Several guys soon showed up, no doubt the fathers of our friends at school, with sand paper and things like stain and water-proofing sealant, and everyone watched as they cleaned up our crudely carved christmas stump and made it beautiful.

By the time it was getting it’s second coat of sealant (several people were using blow-dryers to help it dry faster), it was almost two in the morning, but you wouldn’t know it by how cheerful the crowd was. Everyone was happy and singing and people had once again brought out the coffee and cocoa. My parents showed up around this time. My dad was noticeably still shaken but held my mom on his arm as they walked over to the park to see what the fuss was about. My mom had broken her own fingers off trying to claw through the window, but they were all re-attached and would be fine with time and therapy. Her hands were wrapped in white bandages, as was her head, but she was smiling. She had no recollection of how she got hurt, or even that week between christmas and new year’s, but knew that things were alright with how scared my dad was over her when she woke up in the hospital. They joined us at the park and made their way towards the center to see what the big deal was, but when my mom saw the beautifully carved tree, she almost started crying out of joy. By dawn, most people had either gone home or were sitting tightly snug together on our logs circling the tree, sipping hot chocolate or whatever else people had brought. By now, the tree was already decorated with lights and tinsel and ornaments, and when a plaque was put up in front of it the next year explaining the story of the tree and how this had come to be, it became the town’s new tradition to use our carved tree for many years to come. Our names were carved proudly into the base of the stump and on the plaque as well. I don’t think I’ll ever know the connection between the tree and my mother’s episode, but with everything we saw living in that town, I don’t think anyone would want an explanation. We all just accepted these sorts of things as normal.