Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Monday, May 31, 2010

All Through the Night

This is what we do as a family together on Christmas day. We laugh a lot. Actually, we laugh a lot whenever we get together.

It is expected there be this affection within a family, storge love as the Greeks put it. It is a real blessing when you love being together because not only do we have familia love, but we truly like each other.

Christmas is precious for bringing families together, I hope most appreciate that fact. It is one of the rare days throughout the year when the pictures above could be taken, the five of us together.  When I began in life as a young adult you talked about jobs as 9-to-5 affairs, things you went to for 8 hours a day Monday through Friday.  That wasn't an absolute. Some people worked longer or on different days. My own boyhood family was an exception, my dad being a long-haul trucker who was seldom home. But it was close enough to be called the norm for those times. You could count on hearing men leaving home between 7 and 9 in the morning and see them arriving home between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. Most of the women worked as home keepers, so didn't go off. My mother was a clerk in the Five 'n' Dime for awhile, but retail was different then as well. Stores were open from 9 to 5 on Monday through Thursday, stayed open until 9 PM on Fridays, some opened 9 to 5 on Saturday and never on Sunday.

It is different now, and not for the better. Nothing seems to close anymore. Some stores and even some banks remain open 24/7 all year long. Most stores are open seven days and keep evening hours. Holidays don't mean parades or picnics, just sales. Work schedules are unpredictable and it is difficult to get families in one room at the same time.

So it is with us. My wife is retired, so she controls her own hours. I am close to a norm, working part time Monday through Friday generally from 10 - 2 (since my hours have been cut and I think will be cut again). My son (in retail) and my girls (both in animal shelters) have different schedules weekly and never seem to line up together. Even on Christmas the girls worked some hours. Animals need care everyday.

So bless Christmas it is a day that can bring families together; although, a warning for the future, some stores have begun to open even on Christmas Day. Not all of Scroogedom has repented from the pursuit of one more gold coin.

We had hoped this year my parents could make it to our home for the day. My dad was banned from driving earlier this year because of health problems (his heart) and my mother would not be at ease driving the distance, so I had planned to pick them up and take them home. Weather conspired against us for neither my mother wanted to travel if it were bad nor did my wife want me making the trip in such conditions.

The weekend before Christmas we were visited by Jack Frost who left behind 18 inches of snow. This is not common for Delaware so people deal with it less well than some in other states. Temperatures remained low, so the snow wasn't going anywhere fast, yet the days that week were sunny and bright and the roads in good shape. I held hope until the last moment we would get my parents here, but rains came heavy on Christmas and it didn't happen for us. My dad is 91, my mother 89, so your don't know if a missed opportunity will be the last opportunity.

(Photo is my parents a couple Christmases ago.)

Perhaps our Christmas day was little different than most Americans. Once everyone arrived, we took turns playing Santa and handing out the gifts, then took turns opening them. There was hardly any duplication this year. The first gift my wife opened was a back massager from me. The first gift I opened turned out to be a back massager from her. Ah, that is where the mind goes when you get older -- mutual back massagers.

We watched a funny DVD my son got and laughed our heads off. That is what is going on in the photos at the top. Then we had dinner.

Now the Ghost of Christmas Past will recall we always had a stuffed turkey with all the usual trimmings, but this year my wife asked everyone what they would like for Christmas dinner. We had hot dogs and beans (my choice), potato and macaroni salads, mac & cheese, the pink stuff (some kind of fluffy jello thing my oldest daughter loves), pickles and olives and I've lost track.

After Grace and before digging in we opened out crackers. You know, we are big BritCom fans and Mr. Bean and the "Are You being Served" gang over at Grace Brothers always pull crackers on Christmas. So this year we did too. I wish I had taken a picture of us sitting there reading our fortune in our funny paper hats that had popped out .

A gift my wife had given our son was a set of eight hot BBQ sauces. She ordered from a catalogue online and thought they would be large bottles. This small box came with eight tiny bottles within. Each sauce had a ever hotter sounding title and the last came with a warning label. That evening the kids decided to try the sauces on crackers (the kind you eat this time) and so they did. Ah, you would have had to see the jumps, pacing, screeches, runs for bread or milk, and the guffaws of laugher in between cries of "my tongue is on fire".

I would have joined in this self-inflicted torture, except the only damper for me was I was sick all weekend. I felt the virus start late Christmas Eve eve and it continued right through until Monday. Actually it is still lingering a bit, but you know how it is. You get sick on a holiday and it always clears up enough for you to return to work. I don't get sick often, but it always seems to be when I least wish to be ill (as if there was a time I wished to be), like this Christmas. the last time I got sick was in September 2007 when we were on vacation in Charlottsburg, Virginia.

But I survived and I enjoyed the day with the family.

As it turned out it was probably fortunate the rain kept my parents from coming. They went to dinner with friends, so they weren't alone or missing out on celebrating. But that evening my dad went into the bathroom and after a bit called for my mother to come. She said she went in and there was blood everywhere. My dad had had a biopsy two weeks previously (he had found a lump in his breast) and something had lesioned. My mother called her friend to come take them to the hospital, but the friend did the right thing, told my mom to call 911. The 911 operator instructed my mom to press a towel against my dad's chest until the paramedics arrived and took him to the emergency ward. Who knows what might have happened if this had happened on the road?

Now the Holiday has gone for this year and we sit back and reflect. We reflect on our family and how blessed we are. We do not know what next Christmas will bring, only that we have Christmas because all is in God's hands. In all the joys and mishaps of any Christmas day or any other day, through all the years of life we turn toward the first birth of Christmas and the second birth of Easter with gladness. It is in the aftermath of the celebration that we sit in the glimmer of only the tree lights and think of the last lyric on an old song: "Christmas should be softly spoken, all though the night."

"God bless us, everyone!"



Ron Tipton said...

A very nice Christmas posting about the family Lar. Family is all. Thank you for sharing.

Give my best to your Mom and Dad. They are remarkable to be doing as well as they are at their age.

We can only wonder what the next year and the next decade will bring. One thing is certain, there will be many changes.

My best wishes for your and your family Larry. I'm glad we're still friends and in touch after all these years.


Gigi said...

Aside from being under the weather and your parents being absent, it sounds like you and your family had a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for sharing your day!

I hope you'll soon be feeling better and that your Dad's biopsy comes back benign.

God bless you and yours in the New Year!