Today was a wonderful day. The Babe and I had separate things to go do, so he went to the VFW Post, and I picked up my girlfriend to go to a movie. What a life we retirees live!
We saw “Richard Jewell”, directed by Clint Eastwood. It was very good. I can’t help but feel sorry for the Richard Jewell’s of the world, people who have good hearts, know lots of things about the subject at hand (bombs), and are sweet men who take care of their mothers. Everything that could go wrong does. It is very interesting that he is very observant and ends up being correct in his assessment of the backpack bomb. He was smarter than the government. The G-men were pretty terrible. I know there are some who are very bad men (and women). They are nothing like the G-men the Babe and I know, and have met. Trust me, Babe’s son works for the government. He and his colleagues would never behave in this way.
I went to the Target after the movie, and was amazed at the people shopping for Christmas gifts. When we bought gifts for everyone, I was always done by December 15. Seriously. Either I made gifts for people, afghans, dinner napkins, ornaments, fleece pullovers, jackets, or something personal. Always. I enjoyed it a lot. As I’ve gotten older, it’s tougher to crank out gifts like I used to. Not as much time, and there are so very many crafts and hobbies I really enjoy. And now that I’ve added writing to the mix, it’s a toss up as to what I would do for the people in the family. My siblings and I don’t exchange gifts, neither do Dan’s. We have stopped doing gifts with our adult children, and we do for the four beautiful grandkids. Most of the time they or their parents want gift cards. It is just not as it used to be. And that’s ok.
I cannot imagine being financially secure enough to buy whatever my kids wanted. That never happened in my life until after they left home. I started out behind the 8-Ball and was just catching up twenty years ago. I earned whatever minimum wage was in 1982, the year I was divorced. That was $5 something an hour. $200 a week, minus taxes. I can hardly believe that. In those days, I could walk to Woolworth’s downtown and put stuff in layaway for my eleven, seven, and four old. I’d pay weekly or monthly, and get the gifts out near Christmas. That’s what they received. I don’t think they lacked anything. Certainly not love. My mom used to tell me when you finally had enough money, it just didn’t matter anymore. And she was right.
The best Christmas eve I ever had? It was in about 1986, I had sold our family home, and I rented a house near 84th Street and the Interstate. My younger kids were picked up by their Dad, the oldest who was 15, did not want to go. He stayed at his friend’s house, and missed the 5:30 p.m. pickup. His dad made his brother and sister tell him where the friend lived, so he stopped by there on the way. Frank, Jr., was so embarrassed, he wanted to die. I don’t blame him. You just don’t embarrass your fifteen year old. Ever. When I picked him up, he said he wanted McDonald’s for dinner, so we went there. As we ate burgers and fries, he told me how he wanted to do things in life that were different than his dad wanted him to do. He expressed his opinions about things, told me he’d rather not go visit his dad, and I told him his thoughts and needs should be acknowledged. He was fifteen, after all. We had a wonderful time together as time went on, and one thing I really miss is going Christmas shopping with him. We would shop for hours for his brother and sister, and have lunch, and go to Menard’s for more or new decorations, it was so much fun. I miss those times to this day. It just hasn’t been the same.
So now, in 2019, as we near 2020, the Babe and I have two grandsons, and two granddaughters. We love them all. Two live in town, two live out of town. We wish we could spend holidays with them all and their parents. It just is not possible. As life is, we are here, and they are not. They do their thing, we do ours. It’s substantially different than I ever thought it would be. And that’s ok, too.
The reality of this changed world we live in is we sometimes need to give up on our dreams and hopes of how life should be. We need to take it as it goes. That is very hard to do. Once we relax into a different normal, it’s ok. It seems like normal because it is, it’s our new normal. And we need to embrace that whoever we are, and wherever we are. And I finally have this year, at least I think I have right now. It could change twenty four hours from now, but for now, it needs to be different than I always imagined. We will all be all right.
Yes, an attempt. We need to admit things will be different. That is not always bad. Sometimes it’s very good.
And today, as I purchased my $52.00 of groceries at Target, I was glad I wasn’t buying last minute gifts, things I forgot, or things unexpected company might like if they happen to stop by. I bought a card for the Babe, and that was it. Bagels and Yogurt. That’s it. No stress.
No muss, no fuss. Do I wish all the kids were coming home? Heck yes. But since they are not, they will probably be in their own homes, where it’s familiar for their kids. That’s what Christmas is, it’s for the kids. Not for we adults. I may be way off base, but I’m delighted with what we have. At least for now. We love them all, and love that they can handle their own families. We raised them to do that. Way to go!
Thank you for reading today. I will be here tomorrow, when it’s really Christmas Eve. I hope you will be as well. It’s kind of a big deal. We’ll talk about that. See you then!