…and a couple more things about our Thanksgiving, and words from my heart, my aging heart, my young heart.
For one thing, on Saturday evening, we went downtown where the first ever Christmas boat parade was scheduled on Lake Gregory. The air was icy and blowing, and after we parked our vehicles and were walking down the hill to the water, we could see the tiny decorated boats gliding and turning, and we hurried, even as we pulled our caps more tightly about our ears and wrapped more snugly the scarves about our necks. It was too cold. Within minutes Shawnna, Brady and Ella had returned to the car. “Want hot chocolate?” Andrew asked the boys, for we had taken a thermos each of cocoa and coffee, and yes they did, and yes, did I, and we tried to warm up…but it was just too cold, and within half an hour, before the tree lighting and before Santa arrived, we retreated…now up the hill to our cars.
Though not before I had walked to the water’s edge and secured images of the little missiles that hours before had been simple boats but now cavorted on the chilly water as dragons spurting out steam, glittering trees, and sleighs with reindeer. The carolers were in place, and they would sing of the manger and the angels and of Baby Jesus born that long-ago night in Bethlehem…the night we look to and cherish and celebrate.
From deep in my heart I want to say this: Be with your family on the holidays if at all possible. Be with your friends. Sacrifice, if you must. Carve out hours to just sit. Sit with your parents and talk. Or not talk. For time slithers, golden and black simultaneously, and we are its inevitable victims. On one of the evenings as we sat about the great fire in our living room, Andrew’s phone beeped, and it was the message: Brother Royce Elms has died. Died? He who had been down at his church earlier in the day, he who had just made the trek to California from Texas for his brother Bernard’s anniversary service? That one? That Royce Elms? Yes.
And that night in our home in Crestline, Brother Elms became the touchstone, a striking-out-point of reminder of life and death and devotion. “We’ll always be here on the holidays, Mom,” Andrew said. “It’s the right thing. This is how it should be.”
Don’t misunderstand me, please. I realize there are two sets of parents and other relatives within a married couple’s life, and although I’d like to have all of mine at every holiday, I realize that is not possible…not fair. What is right, though, what is fair, is that we value life and its fleeting style.