Christmas is one of those milestone events whereupon we are prone to meditate on the happenings of Christmases past and all that has happened since Christmas last. For all his inclinations to cynicism, the ol' Bloviator has always been a sucker for this holiday, with all of its connotations of love, warmth and generosity of spirit, this despite all of the efforts to turn it from a figurative Ode to Joy into a literal orgy of materialism and extravagance. When we are young, of course, Christmas is all about anticipation--the lights, glitter, treats and, it goes without saying, that special bike with the big handlebars and banana seat that will instantly vanquish all our anxieties about Mom and Dad's increasingly frequent shouting matches and Grandpa's troubles with his memory and make us absolute Master of all that we survey.
The OB's favorite Christmas was all about anticipation too, but it came a little later, when he was courting the future Ms. OB. Smack in the middle of his junior year in college, the OB was surviving on pork and beans and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and not exactly rolling in discretionary dough. With Ms. OB-to-be scheduled to arrive a day or two after St. Nick, he had found a temporary, seven-day job at $5 per day doing various odd jobs around a combination filling station, hardware store, etc. in order to bolster his bankroll as much as possible. Thus it came to pass that he spent a frigid and windy Christmas Day, 1967 shoveling and sacking coal that would be sold to the store' s decidedly low-income patrons, many of whom found even oil heat, much less gas or electric, simply beyond their means. Despite the cold and exertion, though, the OB can recall no happier or satisfying December 25 than this one, and he recalls with special pleasure, wining and dining his beloved in the finest style, courtesy of the hard-earned $35 that, needless to say went a great deal further in that simpler and clearly cheaper time. As far the OB is concerned, it was clearly the best investment he ever made, for it paved the way the way for forty-two plus wonderful years in partnership with a very special person.
When he reflects on Christmas last, the OB recalls his truly childlike anticipation of being part of his grandson's very first Christmas. Begging your indulgence he shares this excerpt from last year's Yuletide musings:
Barrett's first snapshot on Santa's lap has been captivating me for days, consistently reminding me of the fact that Christmas should convey the pure innocence and wonder that only an infant can manifest. This, of course, leads into my annual posting of Joyce Kilmer's "Kings," which was composed during the living hell of World War I, before that gruesome and ultimately senseless conflict took its composer's life:
The Kings of the
earth are men of might,
And cities are burned for their delight,
And the skies rain death in the silent night,
And the hills belch death all day!
But the King of Heaven, Who made them all,
Is fair and gentle, and very small;
He lies in the straw, by the oxen's stall
When I read every day about our courageous young men who are being killed or horribly maimed every day in Afghanistan, I can't help but question the reasons behind such sacrificial slaughter and remember that many of these young heroes are not even two decades removed from the warm, cuddly, infinitely curious and wide-eyed little boy I can't wait to hold as close as I can for as long as I can.
This year, Barrett remains all those things, although he is now fully ambulatory and picking up new words ( Careful, Grandpa OB!) at the rate of about one per minute. He has no idea, of course, that , God willing, at the tender age of twenty months, he will soon be assuming the awesome responsibility of being big brother to a newly arrived little sister. Thus, bless his heart, this stands to be his last year as the only star in the Christmas firmament for his doting and utterly devoted parents and grandparents. The OB, for one, is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to help him make the absolute most of his final solo days in the spotlight, provided of course, it doesn't involve shoveling coal. The OB may still have heart of a child where Christmas is concerned, but unfortunately he now has the back of a grandpa.
PS. It would not seem
like Christmas at all without the annual display of the OB's Christmas light
show, offered once again with the
indulgence of the 1994 GMC pickup that he is at once illuminating and humiliating.
Nor would it be quite right for him to forego the annual totally corny pleasure he derives from offering his warmest greetings of the season to the faithful patrons of this site and saluting his worthy adversaries over at the Georgia Institute of Technology with a hearty " Felice Bobby Dodd!"