I hate the holidays. Well, not really, but I do dread them almost as much as I used to be giddy with anticipation of their approach when I was young. Don't get me wrong, the food, fun and family doings are all enjoyable. It's the velocity of their annual arrival and the finality of the door slamming on another year that gets me down. Didn't we just have Christmas?! What year is this anyway?
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I realize that's no news flash but it also marks the second year where my wife and I were guests at the table of our youngest daughter Katie and her family. It was a treat to be with Kate and her husband Doug, a creative man with a turkey and other tasty traditional Thanksgiving goodies. I saved room for slices of three different pies provided by Doug's stepmother, his sister Debbie and the the kids' friend, Christine. (Pumpkin, Apple-cranberry, and chocolate pecan in case you were wondering.) As my four year-old grandson, Dan, would say, "It was scrumptious!" I won't need to eat again until July.
We lingered, like most families, for a long while after the feast talking about everything from the value of heirloom jewelry and corn futures, to the recent acceptance of nephew Michael to Baylor University. There were laughs about previous Thanksgiving mishaps, childhood stunts, job related stories, the usual stuff of family get togethers. Seated next to Dan, I was able to keep him entertained with my passable Donald Duck impression and, when that failed, the fart app on my I-phone. I "kill" with the Yo Gabba Gabba crowd.
As afternoon became evening it struck me that sometime while I wasn't paying attention the holiday torch had been passed. Thanksgivings and future Christmases are now the province of Katie and Doug's generation. There was no memo or meeting to attend, but the compilation of birthdays has moved Linda and me from host to guest for these traditions. We are now the "old people" who, when not doting on the grandkids, talk of pensions, medicare and how the country is going to hell and aren't we lucky we won't be around to see it.
As I said, I am beginning to hate the holidays. They're fun but a big fat reminder that another year is up on blocks and the clock is ticking. Friends are falling by the wayside, bucket lists need attention or trimming, and suddenly there is a real awareness of past mistakes that demand correction …if possible. I plan to get on that right after the holidays.
The hand off has been made. The kids now own the season until one day--you might as well say next week--they'll look around and wonder just when their own kids took charge. It's life. Thomas Lynch, the fine poet and essayist, said it best: "So it is with this life, we hammer at the moment until all that's left is memorable."
And, as long as we're quoting, let's let the English poet John Betjeman take a shot at this predicament.
"You've been given just one life in this world that matters and upon which every other life somehow depends as long as you live, and also given the costly gifts of hunger, choice, and pain with which to raise a modest shrine to meaning."
Good luck with that. The clock is ticking.
In the meantime, I wonder if there is any more of that pie?