Advent 2 – Through a Window

Prepare.

Wait

And then, wait some more.

Was the plane on time? We weren’t sure.

How bad were the roads between the airport near San Francisco and the sprawling ranch in the center of the Central Valley of California? We weren’t sure.

Back then, still a child that could count my years with the fingers of two hands, I remember waiting. For that Christmas, many on my mother’s side of the family were gathering at my grandparents’ magical ranch. The relatives from the distant land of Tennessee would be arriving for the celebrations. Or would they?

Communication by telephone was sketchy. Continue reading →

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Advent 1 – Pendletons in the Closet

My father’s shirts have hung in my closet since the summer of 2012.

He had died in February of that year.

Several months after Dad’s death, Mom began the steps to sell her home of over forty years. There was contact with a real estate agent. The inevitable garage sale. My sisters and I helped and there came a time when Mom invited us to take any of the things we might want. She was downsizing, soon to move to a retirement facility. There wouldn’t be enough room for many of the “things” my parents had accumulated in their nearly seven decades of marriage. In truth, my Depression-era parents had always been frugal and weren’t encumbered by piles of stuff. Don’t-buy-it-if-you-can’t-afford-it could have been a motto displayed on a shingle underneath their street address. Continue reading →

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My Worst Thanksgiving

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in 2018’s “The Green Book”

My worst Thanksgiving was in 1972. All things considered, my “worst” wasn’t so bad*. Still, I remember that Thanksgiving like no other.

A college student, I voted for the first time in 1972. It was also when I worked at Sears—then still a retail giant—in Fresno, California. Once Sears hired me, I figured I was fixed for a paycheck until graduation. Clueless about a store’s need to boost its staffing around the holidays, I was out of a job when Santa’s view of chimneys was in his sleigh’s side mirrors.

All I knew was that I wanted a job. Give me any hours!

How about working on the day before and the day after Thanksgiving? Give ‘em to me! In 1972, the minimum hourly wage was $1.60. More on holidays. Whoa!

And so, with the cost of college textbooks and paying my apartment’s heating bill, I hunkered down in Fresno to work. My family gathered up yonder in Sacramento—a three-hour drive from Fresno—for their Thanksgiving feast. I greedily punched the time clock. On the long, lonely Thursday, I prepared a Swanson’s frozen TV dinner for my, er, feast. Poor me. Continue reading →

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