The Real Tori
02/21/2008 AT 10:00 AM EST
When I was five, my father wanted me to have a white Christmas. On Christmas Day a truck from Barrington Ice in Brentwood pulled up to our house. They spread snow in the back yard and added a styrofoam snowman. Five years later my dad hired a snow machine to blow out so much powder that it created a sledding hill. I was ten and my brother, Randy, was five. They dressed us in snowsuits (for the photos – it was eighty-five degrees out). Everyone came to see the snow in Beverly Hills: Robert Wagner, Mel Brooks . . . not that I noticed. Randy and I spent Christmas zooming down the hill in saucer sleds. It was a pretty spectacular day.
But for all the effort and fanfare my parents put into my childhood, I'm most sentimental about some of the lower-key indulgences. I asked my parents for an allowance. My father wanted to give me five dollars, but I wanted twenty-five cents because that's what the other kids got. Dad told me that to earn my allowance I'd have to help out, and he'd do it with me. Every weekend we'd scoop up dog poo and rake leaves. We hadn't yet moved to the Manor – that enormous house the press can't get over – but we still had a large yard and four dogs. And we had gardeners to take care of all that. I suspect he told them to leave it be. What I wish my father had understood before he died is that of all those large-scale memories he and my mother spent so much money and energy creating, picking up poo is what stayed with me my whole life.