My wife and I are just a few days away from visiting our children and grandchildren in the Elk Valley. We have a beautiful daughter, her husband and three children in Sparwood.
In Elkford, just a short distance from Sparwood, we have a handsome son—some say he looks like his dad—his wife and three children. This trip to the valley will be very special. On December 31 I will be celebrating 65 years and our granddaughter Alexandra will be celebrating her eleventh birthday on that same date—lots of 2% milk and chocolate cake.
In recent days I have been giving a lot of thought to aging and to life in general. In thinking about aging and the necessary adjustments I have to be careful in that the complexities of life doesn’t take away from the simplicity of youth. The commonality that binds us all is the fact that we were all young.
When I reflect upon my youth while adjusting to the complexities of life, I find myself being invigorated, motivated and anxious to move on and enjoy every minute of life that God might allow me. I enjoy being with the same spouse for forty-three years. I enjoy our children and the grandchildren. I enjoy my siblings and the extended Rowe family of more than a hundred. I simply enjoy life!
On September 9, 1948 Patsy Cline released a simple but a very sentimental song: “If I could see the world thru the eyes of a child, what a wonderful world this would be. There’d be no trouble and no strife, just a big happy life with a bluebird in every tree.” This song helps me to understand who I am and the “who I am” has so much to do with “who I was.” When I was young I saw the world through the eyes of a child because I was a child. Today I need again to see the world and life through the eyes of a child so that the accomplishments, the achievements and the successes are not lost in the complexities and the challenges and the frustrations and the disappointments of living.
When I was a child the complexities of life was placed on the shoulders of my parents. When I was hungry they fed me. When I needed seasonal clothing they clothed me. When I needed to be educated they provided the resources, the encouragement; they set the moral and ethical standards that helped catapult me from being a child to a teen to an adult. Outside of the regular domestic chores life was pretty good. When in school I was taught and expected to apply myself to the task at hand and always perform with the highest possible expectations. If I did not apply myself and be the best that I could be then I was encouraged by my teacher, my siblings and certainly by my parents.
At the end of a school day you could hear the youth screaming and hollering as we created and enjoyed our own fun – baseball, hopscotch,colors, hide-and-seek, giant steps, tiddly, rope skipping, sling shots, stilts, etc. When the call for supper could be heard around the cove, all games stopped immediately and hungry kids made their way home to a hot and nutritious meal made by Mom. When the days were short and the nights were cold we went star gazing, watching cloud formations, skated on the bay or some nearby pond, sliding down some treacherous slopes or we simply walked the darkened roads where street lights were non-existant. Summertime was carefree and lots of fun.
Looking back upon life through the eyes of an adult, I still see myself as a child. Why not? It is fun to reminisce and enjoy the fragrance of youthful living that was carefree, simple but responsible. When I look back upon who I was it helps me to understand who I am.
Christmas is always a great time to reflect but for some it is not a season to be jolly. But we are alive! We are breathing! We can still reach out and hold on to the vibrancy of life and make every day better than the day before. Seize the moment! Enjoy the moment!
I remember waking up on Christmas morning and feeling the warmth of a home knitted sock brushing against my cheek and it was a wonderful feeling. The four oldest boys slept in two beds in the same room and we were so excited to receive the gifts of an orange, an apple, a few grapes and maybe a pencil and a scribbler – sometimes a small toy was found in the toe of our stocking. We could hear our sisters in one of the other bedrooms as they giggled and laughed at their new found treasures.
We still talk about gathering around the Christmas tree where Dad always acted as Santa Claus. However, before we got into the homemade Christmas wrappings and meager gifts Dad would always read the Christmas story from the Bible, take a few minutes to talk about the ‘spirit’ of Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birthday. Dad would then pray with the family before reading the name on the gift and pass it to the child. We never talked about the politics of Christmas – we couldn’t even pronounce the word. We simply enjoyed the moment and the sense of peace and joy it brought to the family.
Seeing the world through the eyes of a child reminds me of a lovely story about the gold wrapping paper. Once upon a time, a man punished his five-year-old daughter for using up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper before Christmas. Money was tight, so he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve, he saw that the child had used the expensive gold paper to decorate a large shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless. the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy!” As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier reaction, now regretting how he had punished her. But when he opened the shorbox, he found it was empty and his anger flared again. “Don’t you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present there’s supposed to be something inside the package!” The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was full.” The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.
If we could see the world through the eyes of a child then we could blow kisses and pretend that life is wonderful – which it is. Readers, have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Remember, even with the expense of Christmas, the sun is always shining.