Setting Down To Dinner

A piece of cheesecake with one bite taken out.

I recently received a letter from a lady that I have not seen in a very long time (probably 50 years).  Mrs. Hinkle is ninety and doing fine.  She writes a wonderful letter and expresses herself so eloquently.   I had written her the week before and she was kind enough to respond with some information of her own.  How good it makes you feel when you hear from someone that was part of your life so long ago.  Her youngest son (Hubert) and I were good friends in high school and I see him at our reunion every 5 years.   I have made a commitment to keep in touch and I fully intend to do that.  Maybe, one day I will be able to visit her and her son.

It has been said that one of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.  Probably, all of us suffer from that delusion, whether retired, or not.  I have come to the conclusion that what I do is important to me, but matters little to others and that is as it should be.  I ramble on about my daily life in this missive, but I know that it is of little importance to others.  As an example, I normally prepare my coffee pot at night so that the next morning I can stumble, bleary eyed, into the kitchen, flip the switch and my precisely measured 2½ cups of coffee will drip slowly into the container, ready to jolt me to life. Well, the other night around 11:30pm I walked over to the cabinet to retrieve my coffee container and filter for the 15,000th time and the thought struck me, “This won’t go on forever.  There will come a time when I will not be able to perform this simple taskâ€.  Ah, to be young and not worry about the approaching demise of life as we now enjoy it. 

The other night Jerilyn and I sat down to eat dinner around 7:30pm, watched the evening news (Katie Couric-recorded) and started watching the movie, “A Dog Named Christmas†that we recorded the night before so we could skip thru the commercials.  Somewhere, around 9pm, she suggested we pause the show so she could clean up the dishes and prepare dessert.  We picked up our plates and headed for the kitchen.  I sat down at the PC to check my email and she took something into the laundry room next to the bathroom at the far end of the house.  She came back to the kitchen and said, “Dessert is readyâ€.  I met her at the kitchen door and all of a sudden she says, “I hear water running someplaceâ€.  Both of us walked toward the sound of the water (the far bathroom).   Jerilyn turns on the lights, steps into the bathroom and immediately  got both feet wet.   The bathroom floor was covered with about an 1/8†of water and it is madly spraying out from underneath the toilet tank.  It is quickly determined to be coming from the water line feeding the water tank.  She turns off the water and start mopping up.  Fortunately, there was only about ½ gallon of water on the floor and no damage.  It did not take long for us to realize how fortunate we were.  Had we sat in front of the TV another ½ hour, or, been away from home, the damage could have been catastrophic.  Turns out the plastic nut that holds the waterline securely to the bottom of the tank had cracked, allowing the water to spew out.  The thought of how much damage could’ve been done overwhelmed both of us.  To be home and to notice the problem within minutes is indeed a blessing from on high.   The Lord does, occasionally, remind us that he is in charge and is indeed a major player in our lives. 

I have reached the age in my life when I can look back and see what I have done and I cannot imagine ever doing that much again.  Age can, and should, give you a perspective that you will not have as a younger person.  Recently I was thinking about how far I have driven an automobile in my lifetime.  My best guess is around 650,000 miles.  This figure was derived by estimating the number of miles driven by me on all the vehicles I have owned.  I have not included any other form of travel (i.e.: bus, train, airplane).   Within that 650,000 miles, lies my memories of learning to drive by standing up in the backseat behind Dad and, with an arm over each shoulder, steering the car while he operated the foot controls.  I also remember how patient he was with me as I steered around potholes and ruts in the road.  Each Sunday we drove up to Grandpa/Grandma Hale’s for dinner  and the trip was 10 miles up a dirt road hollow.  It was quite a perilous drive for the creek bed below was a good distance down and entrusting a nine year old boy to safely navigate those roads required a lot of confidence.  Mom was the worry-wart, but Dad would just smile, determined to let me get us safely to Grandma’s.  My younger brother, Jerry,  just sat quietly in the back seat not really caring that he wasn’t getting to drive any.  I guess he knew that eventually his time would come.  I didn’t realize it at the time but he was such a good kid.    On the 16th of this month he will be gone a year.  All of us who knew him up close and personal miss him so very much.

How many of us spend time thinking about the meaning of Christmas?  We all know what the celebration is about, but what, really, is the “Christmas Spiritâ€?   Each and every Christmas I try to get that spirit and, I have to admit, I’m not always successful in acquiring it.  You see, I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I know the feeling.   When it comes, there is a warmth that surrounds my heart and a peacefulness that engulfs my entire being.  That feeling is so addictive that you feel as though you never want to let it go.  The problem is I don’t know how to insure that I get it each year.  I strive to acquire it but it remains elusive and hard to find.  I never know whether the “Spirit†will come this year or wait until the next.  Believe me, I actually try to acquire it!  I listen to a lot of Christmas music, go to Christmas events at church and attend Christmas concerts at various places in our area.  Still, none of this insures me that the “Spirit†will arrive and enter within me.   I think that it came much easier when I was young.  As I get older, it seems my heart is not as receptive and I have to really try harder.   Maybe, there are too many things that cloud my mind and, if that is true, it would seem to be impossible to find that almost magical feeling.    I have often heard it said that “Christmas is for childrenâ€.   I don’t really believe that.  I think Christmas is for all of us.  A time to celebrate the birth of Christ, the closeness of family and friends and to remember those we love that have passed over to the other side.  I see more kindness at Christmas than at any other time.  Complete strangers that would otherwise ignore me, will shout “Merry Christmasâ€!   So, if you see me this Christmas season how will you know whether I have that wonderful “Christmas Spiritâ€?   Just look me in the eyes and if you see a special twinkle you will know I have it.  Otherwise, you will know I’m still trying. 

I hope you’re enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world.  Thanks for reading my monthly missive.

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To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere

without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux