Over the years, I’ve tried to teach the little one that sometimes you can take greatest joy out of the simplest of things. We don’t have many of the electronic gadgets and the technological gizmos that so many other of her and, for that matter, my, contemporaries feel that they can’t live without. To me, life is easier without most of them and all they do is serve to further clutter an already cluttered life. I think the message might be sinking in…
For me, Christmas was good. As a matter of fact, it was very, very good. It didn’t start out that way though.
I think it was the 22nd when an ice storm decided to descend on my home town. At it’s peak, there were an estimated 200,000 people that were left with no electricity and no heat. It’s now the 27th and there are still about 65,000 people still left in the dark. In the time that ensued, temperatures bottomed out at around -5 degrees Fahrenheit. No matter how you slice it, that’s freakin’ cold. My heart goes out to those who found themselves in such a state. Me, I’m truly one of the lucky ones. Mine was only gone for a day or so…
So Christmas with my daughter, once threatened by events beyond my control, was now back on schedule. There were presents to open and memories to be had…
I usually try to center most Christmases around some kind of theme. One year, it might be books and another it might be crafts. This year, I centered on games and puzzles. There was a simple caveat though.
These were not the kind of games that you plug into the wall or that come up on your television set or your Game Boy or what have you. These were not the kind of games that are rendered as useless as the battery when it runs out. No, this year the games were centered around the simple ones, the board games that most of us who are getting up there in years grew up with. These were the ones that, at least in my case, not only provided you with some form of entertainment, but, were also in danger of actually teaching you something. There was mancala, dominoes, Othello, Rummikub and Monopoly. There were jigsaw puzzles and a brand new copy of The Three Musketeers on hand when we tired of the games. There were few, if any, moving parts to contend with and there was no assembly required.
This year, I think however unintentionally, Anna seemed to follow suit. Her trinkets to me included some hand made pottery onto which she had painted a rainbow. There was some kind of utility tool for my forays into the world of golf that I could keep in my pocket as I cursed my way up and down the course. Best of all, there was a home made blanket of blue and green that I’m sure will keep me warm for years to come.
There were simple breakfasts of sausages and French Toast with cups and cups of hot chocolate to wash it down with. There were the low strains of commercial free uninterrupted Christmas music playing in the living room. There was a glazed ham and a sidewalk covered in snow and there were hours and hours spent at the dining room table plotting little strategies in whatever game we had decided to play. It was unhurried, it was so, I don’t know, “nice”. For those moments, it was like we had the world to ourselves..
I’m guessing that as the years go by, Anna will be influenced more and more by her peers than she will be by me. There’ll be things such as fashion and style that will come to invade our house. There’ll probably be in the inevitable cry of “But, (insert name here) has one!!!” There’ll be parties to attend and places to go.
I’m hoping that one day when she’s older and maybe off on her own, she’ll remember a simple Christmas with her simple old man and a simple smile will cross her face.
I’m hoping her eyes mist over like mine do when I look at her when she’s doing something and isn’t aware of my gaze. I’m hoping she has to blink away the tears like I’m doing right now when she remembers the time way back in 2004 that she and her pops sat around a table for hours and hours with nothing more than each others company and a few simple things to keep them occupied and to keep the world at bay.