I remember holidays when I was but a pup.
We’d go to my grandparents’ houses and sit and talk and laugh. Drinks would flow for the adults in typical Italian and Polish fashion. The radio would play music from the “Italian Hour.” An accordion was central to the music. There would be singing, anything from the Beer Barrel Polka to Ave Maria (who needed Luciano Pavarotti when you had my Papaw and his buddy Mutt?), and, sometimes, there was even dancing.
It was glorious. Yet the stream of life never stops rushing. I’m now into my 60s and my grandparents have long since passed. (My grandfather’s brother Rudy, however, just died this past week at the age of 100.)
Thankfully, my parents are still living. They are hobbling, now in their 80s, but still getting along just fine. Ditto Joni’s parents. We’re still able to enjoy them at the holidays. We’ll be in Fairmont with them on Thanksgiving.
Yet to those younger reading this I ask that you embrace every moment you have with your loved ones. Because things change. In the blink of an eye.
It feels like just yesterday that I’d visit my great grandparents. And then they fell away. Yet I had my grandparents. Until they fell away.
You adapt, of course, but that stream, that creek of life, keeps moving. We get married. We have kids. The kids grow. They have kids. They have in-laws. Sometimes there’s divorce. Sometimes there’s illness. It never stops.
So, I implore you to put down your phones and look at those you love — those you’re fortunate to still have in your life – in the eyes. Snap mental pictures as you talk and laugh.
My daughter Celeste will be coming next week. She lives in Charlotte, and I rarely get to see her. That hurts, but for two days she’ll be in Glen Dale with us. Her and boyfriend Brock. (See? Life never stops evolving.)
Of course, we’ll welcome both with open arms. It will have to serve as both Thanksgiving and Christmas because of their work schedules. Celeste always loved what remains an Italian-style Christmas, complete with records playing in the background of my parents’ house, through the years. But that stream rushes on. It causes change.
So, cherish these moments. I’ll cherish the time I’ll see my daughter. I’ll hug her tightly, as I always do, and kiss the top of her head. I’ll take a million mental snapshots. I’ll probably again instruct Brock to take care of my girl. (“I’m really TRYING,” he said with sincerity last time.)
Then I’ll repeat the exercise on Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family that does gather, the ones not on the in-laws’ rotation, the ones that don’t have to work, the ones…
You get it. You understand.
We must embrace what is put before us. And, hopefully, we cherish that. Hopefully we cherish the conversation. Hopefully, we cherish held hands in prayer with turkey and stuffing on the table. Hopefully, we cherish the football games and fireplaces and even the preparation and cleanup.
Because we’re with those we love.
So, give them hugs, friends. And, while, yes, that stream continues to rush, know that we can still hold tight to the moments, the memories, if we appreciate, if we cherish them now.
For they won’t wash away.
God bless you all. And have a very Happy Thanksgiving.