Those born during this coming holiday season can look forward to a lifetime of birthday marginality; any celebration will be overshadowed by the exuberant social jollity that surrounds the birth far in the past of one who they are told was a much greater Being. However for those of us who love one of these unfortunates yet live at a distance, their birth-date can provide a blessing. We connect with them at that special time when families get together at Christmas.
I am blessed with one such – my first-born grandchild. Born on the night of Boxing Day, he will be eight years old this Yuletide. He’s a happy boy. Though sensitive, he smiles a lot and engages life with gusto. He’s always a tonic to be around (even if a little exhausting in large doses).
We love that he thinks grandparents are a really good thing that ought to be made available more often. When we expose him to any new aspect of the world around us, he pays careful and enthusiastic attention. What’s not to like about that when our own relevance in most eyes shrank to minimal once we slipped into retirement? Told a story, our grandson is wide-eyed – how different from his parents, cynical Echo Boomers who, as they practiced when teenagers, still roll their eyes or look determinedly bored if I ever slip into reminiscing.
A trip into Nature with a set of young eyes is to revisit her wonders anew. A visit to the park means one is free to take to the swings to whoosh up into the blue, working the ropes hard to get as high as aging muscles will allow. Going to the zoo is to marvel again at the preposterousness of the rhinoceros, crane our necks to take in the skyscraping giraffes, and wonder aloud at the lithe beauty of a python and the hairy awfulness of a tarantula.
How can one not adore a Christmas present that delivers such delight?
By Ian Keith Anderson