Then One Foggy Christmas Morn (Part 5 / Denouement)

Here are the links to parts ONETWOTHREEFOUR

My conflicting emotions go to war on the battlefield of the mind, as I soldier onward, on my December 25th walk at dawn. One faction symbolizes fond memories of hometown Christmases past… the other cabal represents the unmemorable hometown of Christmas present.

In the scant hour, since this all began, the still unseen, rising sun has gradually, somewhat lightened up the blue / gray overcast… driven off a bit of the misty swirling fog.

My observations inspired, recurring question:

“What the hell good is change within a community when there’s no apparent, appreciable betterment of society?

This brings to mind the recent bulldozing of, yet, another Elementary school. That I had never set foot within it, is really not the issue. What is, is what eventually got built in its bulldozer leveled footprint… how the city fathers and mothers had thumbs upped a crass, subdivision developer’s master plan / plot to construct dozens of butt ugly, gargantuan, too cookie cutter and closely spaced, boxy, monstrosity “mansions”.

They remind me of Star Trekian Borg Cubes with tacked on aluminum siding. True, that’s an exaggeration… the siding is not aluminum.

I’m now free associating Malvina Reynolds’ song, Little Boxes, and suspect this will become an all walk long… maybe even all Christmas Day long earworm.

• Why couldn’t the locally empowered have opted, instead, for more affordable and aesthetically pleasing housing?

• How could they justify the negative impact of too damned much, rich, arable soil getting paved over… how that can only worsen world hunger and global warming… the one-two punch that threatens the very extinction of humanity!

Far be it from me to fault folks who are successful beyond their wildest dreams. However, their dreams become our nightmares when high elective office morphs them into the high and mighty. This, for the most part, is what draws the new town vs. old town battle-lines.

And what’ll be next? Gated communities with posted signs warning the commoners to KEEP OUT? Will the mayor wind up in his UnWelcome Wagon’s driver’s seat? Hanging his head out the window to blast over a bullhorn, his bullcrap, “GET OUT” message to the masses? Will he be presenting the key to the city to some vigilante (such as George Zimmerman)?

If any town buys into “of, by and ONLY for the wealthiest of the wealthy”, then commoners, such as I, become class war casualties.

And what then would become of my Chrismases, yet to come? Might one of those walks… uh… the final one… find me outward bound from the main drag’s City Limits sign… unjustly banished… forever run out of town by well-heeled heels?

Well… at least for the time being… my Christmas walk now sends me seeking out the comfort of hearth and home… the house I had inherited from my folks. I’ll soon be scaring up some comfort food, too. Instantly coming to mind is a stack of mouth watering, made from scratch, fresh off the griddle pancakes… all doused with maple syrup and washed down with fragrant, freshly brewed coffee.

All the more reason to pick up my pace. And an even better reason… to leave the new town reality behind me.

No truer words were ever committed to paper than lyricist Kim Gannon’s “I’ll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams” and author Thomas Wolfe’s adage, “You can’t go home again.”

The poignancy of it all can easily well up tears in the eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then One Foggy Christmas Morn (Part 4)

 

While Part 4 can stand on its own two feet, here are the links to Part 1Part 2Part 3

My at the crack of dawn, Christmas walk keeps me advancing through my lifelong hometown… the dreary, grayish blue cloud deck above… the chilly, misty fog swirling at street level. At this hour, most of the townies are either still abed or about to break bread… maybe even don their Sunday best to attend midweek mass at their chosen Houses of Worship.

We can thank the Heavenly Father that the city fathers have yet to conspire with their like-minded counterparts… the evil, anything for a buck, wrecking ball oriented, developers who likely lust to either reduce the three churches near the town square to ground zero rubble… or, perhaps, re-purpose them… oh… say… as a chain of Pancake House / Houses of Worship?

WOW! What a time saver, huh? Hmm… might the phrase that pays soon become…

“Would you like to wash down your little cookie / communion wafer
with some Coffee? A Frappuccino? Cafe Latte? Milk? Chalice of Wine?

My sarcastic streak leaves me (ever so slightly) chuckling. With nary a soul in sight, my thoughts are free to wander back to where I’ve been wandering off to this very day… my boyhood home and hood, the town square and my folks’ rented domiciles… backdating to their earliest days as newcomer settlers of this Smalltown, Michigan community.

Then I wonder… where to wander next?

At the moment I’m outward bound from the very schoolhouse where my parents, both teachers, had educated young minds… where, later on, as a tween and teen, I had matriculated.

A vehicle whooshing by on the wet pavement disrupts my reveries… heightens the sense of my being afloat in a sea of rudderless, mixed emotions. My decades-old, old town warm memories, constantly clashing with the cold, new town reality, is not unlike the stormy collision of meteorological fronts. To acquiesce to my community’s evolution is proving difficult. After all, what the hell good is change when there’s no apparent, appreciable betterment of society?

Such thoughts bring to mind the bulldozing of, yet, another Elementary school. That I had never set foot within it, is really not the issue. What is? Well… a flood of melancholy, momentarily, tables that thought…

I realize that no amount of wishful thinking could ever, possibly, overcome the inescapable truths my walk is revealing to me… my yearnings echoed by lyricist Kim Gannon’s reminder: “I’ll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams” and author Thomas Wolfe’s adage: “You can’t go home again.”

I exhale my low, long sigh…

 

“Stay Tuned” for Part 5…

 

 

 

 

 

Then One Foggy Christmas Morn (Part 3)

 

While Part 3 can stand on its own two feet, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.

My at daybreak, Christmas walk through my lifelong hometown now finds me outward bound from the town square… feeling just as blue as the dismal, grayish blue overcast above… just as dispirited as when I had exited my boyhood neighborhood scant moments ago.

Hmm… where next? Seeing how the house my parents had rented… my very first home… was a mere thirty seconds down the main drag, I figured why not?

Of course, there’d be some unavoidable issues. Firstly, my having resided there for only two months, as a newborn, meant any recollections, at best, would be as hazy as this a.m.’s chilly, misty fog. Lastly, only family photo album pics can attest to the existence of this neighborhood… i.e., since that era’s city fathers wound up rezoning the bulk of that city block… thereby clearing the way for a wrecking ball crew to raze a row of homes, houses of historical significance, just to make way for a factory. An ugly factory so close to the town square? YIKES! What were they thinking? Were they thinking?

With really nothing to see, here, I move onward, my “last man on Earth” delusion getting debunked, momentarily, by the sound of two yackety-yakking guys tanking up their SUVs at the Speedway convenience store / gas station.

My next stop finds me admiring the very first house my newlywed folks had rented. Both being public school teachers, they could not have chosen a better locale. They enjoyed a walking distance “commute” to/from the town’s (then) high school.

For a fleeting moment I consider a mid-course correction to reconnect to my old Elementary School… to revive / relive my kindergarten days … but… due to yet another wrecking ball crew… well… why even bother actually visiting a place that only virtually exists?

And so, onward I hike, along the very path my folks had traveled to get to work… simultaneously passing by the school I attended from grades 5 thru 8… where my 7th grade English class had convened in the very same classroom that an old yearbook photo shows my own mother teaching in… five years before I was born.

Alas… long sigh… while this school still stands, it is no longer what it used to be. Nearly a decade ago, the school board opted to auction it off to the highest bidder (the bulding is now repurposed as a Big Biz’s HQ).

And so… here I am, yet again, stuck within this new town reality clashes with old town memories… where these inescapable truths rule…

Lyricist Kim Gannon’s reminder: “I’ll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams.”

Author Thomas Wolfe’s adage: “You can’t go home again.”

 

“Stay Tuned” for Part 4…

 

 

 

 

 

Then One Foggy Christmas Morn (Part 2)

 

While Part 2 can stand on its own two feet, for anyone who may be curious, I’m linking to Part 1.

My early daybreak, Christmas walk through my lifelong hometown now finds me leaving my boyhood neighborhood behind… with heavy heart… soldiering onward… beneath the widespread, dismal, grayish blue overcast and amidst the enshrouding, chilly, misty light fog… the vehicular traffic is still sparse… the pedestrian traffic… uh… not another soul in sight…

Redirecting my attention to the displayed, residential outdoor Christmas decorations, for the most part, they appear as artistically unimaginative, disappointing afterthoughts… as if each weekend warrior residents’ ‘tude had been…

“Eh, what the hell, I’ll just toss on and tack up these damned things so
I can get ‘er done before the ‘big game’ comes on the big screen TV.”

Soon nearing the town square, my “what is” and “what was” comparative study conjures up a whole new meaning to the phrase “The Main Drag”… with emphasis on “Drag”. My yesteryear eyes become further saddened upon witnessing the results of multiple generations of poor planning by our city fathers. Submitted for disapproval, their aesthetically barren / artistically unimaginative afterthoughts.

Just how many drink or drown nightclubs / swank eateries doth one small town ever really need? Unless one deems the neon hued night life to be the end-all to life, one could easily rank this downtown business district a dull, null and void dead zone.

Gone is that days of yore charm, best exemplified by the Mom and Pop grocery stores and the truly helpful hardware dealers who also did double duty as handymen… happily / helpfully toiling away in their backroom workshops. Also gone, the lunch counter drug store, five and dime and clothier. Hell, even the post office had relocated.

Urban sprawl had morphed within walking distance convenience into a many miles distant, pissing way gasoline road trip.

Alas… here I am, once more stuck within the new town reality… where no amount of wishful thinking could possibly overcome the inescapable truths hinted at / backed up by…

Lyricist Kim Gannon’s reminder: “I’ll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams.”

Author Thomas Wolfe’s adage: “You can’t go home again.”

 

“Stay Tuned” for Part 3…

 

 

 

Then One Foggy Christmas Morn (Part 1)

 

Just before yesterday’s daybreak… my appetite for reconnecting with Christmases past… in a manner more tangible than mere memories… far outweighed my hunger for sustenance. Donning my jacket, I hit the trail for a short trek through my lifelong hometown.

Destination: My boyhood neighborhood.

My excessively sentimental… bordering on delusional… expectations were that, beneath the dismal, grayish blue overcast and amidst the enshrouding, chilly, misty light fog, I’d wind up…

• at the very least… getting a glimpse of the very home, which I had deemed the center of my universe (throughout the first seven years of my life) and, perhaps, even spotting a fully decorated, lit up Christmas tree in the living room window (right where I would’ve seen it through my 60 years younger eyes).

• at the very most… getting caught up in some sort of freakish, Stephen Hawking or Stephen King postulated cosmic vortex? A space/time rip, which would send me hurling back, Back, BACK? To start out my life, anew? My, perhaps, even retaining enough of my accrued wisdom / foreknowledge to alter my now younger self’s decisions… all leading up to a better life?

Alas… obviously… I’m still here… unchanged…

No window showcased Christmas tree. No window of opportunity time warp, either. No amount of wishful thinking could possibly overcome a known, orderly multiverse’s implacable reality. All of that even gets backed up by more down to Earth realities… namely…

• Lyricist Kim Gannon’s reminder: “I’ll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams.”

• Author Thomas Wolfe’s adage: “You can’t go home again.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Holiday Posting Plans…

 

Having caught the blogging bug way back in June ’06 (over @Tom Anderson’s MySpace), the only reasons for my not being @WordPress on Christmas Eve / Day, would be [1] tech woes, [2] Orwellian detention, [3] debilitation [4] sudden death.

However, owing to my [1] deference due the Caretaker of the Cosmos, [2] my reverence for the ancient account of Mary and Joseph’s whereabouts / un-stable lodgings on (or around) December 24th and 25th and [3] their purportedly pivotal roles regarding the Blessed Event of any Millennium

I hereby proclaim that throughout tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll be refraining from posting new political content… especially stuff which dwells on the duly disgraced Donny. Oh, I might make an exception if (IF?) he doth something inordinately deplorable and/or dense… i.e., if there’s a tale to tell, which could not possibly “keep” until the 26th.

But… oh… what a wonderful world it would be if, during those same 48 hours, the White House Whiner-In-Chief would refrain from posting political content, too!

Maybe if we hope / pray really hard…

• Trump’s Tweets will not exceed his from the heart (what heart?) “Merry Christmas”… i.e., the very phrase he insists that even non-Christians wish each other.

• Donny will finally spend some quality time to actually get better acquainted with his nuclear family. Hmm… how is it that I can practically envision his spouse and offspring needing to wear those stickers that say, “Hello… my name is ____________!“

So, what would be their chances for a genuine, wholesome, family reunion… ala Currier and Ives… one that the guru of gracious living, Martha Stewart, would endorse?

Alas… to keep this all real, some families are so dysfunctional they ARE beyond repair.

Hmm… perhaps an intervention could do the trick… oh… say… courtesy of a Dickensonian trio of ghosts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Christmas

This past Sunday, I opened my eyes to greet Christmas morn just before 7 o’clock. My first waking thoughts were of fond distant, boyhood memories… perhaps, it had even been a quickly fading dream? Whatever the source, my recollection was of bounding down the staircase to find all the presents Santa had left me under the tree.

As I caught my older self smiling, I realized that this special morning required a break in the routine. Instead of immediately heading off to the kitchen to scare up some breakfast, I’d first head out on a half-mile hike to purchase a newspaper.

Some might call me a throwback to a bygone era, but there’s just something special about shutting down the tech to read from an actual, held-in-the-hands, ink-on-paper publication and, afterwards, filling in the Sudoku, Jumble and Crossword Puzzles (LA & NY Times) with a ballpoint pen.

And so, I donned my down parka and stepped out onto my front porch. It being mere days following the Winter Solstice, it was still dark outside and the overnight hush that had descended over my lifelong hometown was still working its magic.

The only audible sounds were the gentle, yet steady, chilly wind whooshing through pine needles and the crunch, crunch, crunch of my Sketchers™ as I traipsed through the lingering patches of snow and frozen slush.

The ambiance of the homes lit up with festive, outdoor and indoor decorations, against the backdrop of an inky sky, easily transported me off into a timeless, fantasyland, all of which significantly slowed my customary walking-run stride. I now wished to make these scenes last an eternity.

It was around this time that an approaching jogger and I exchanged our “Merry Christmas” greetings… but as for any other townsfolk stirring about, either on foot or in their vehicles, these incidents were so rare it eventually felt as if I were all alone in a community of 9+ thousand… in a world of 7+ billion.

I’ve come to know, all too well, these “last man on earth” vibes and the strong sense of impending doom…

While wallowing within the post 2016 Election Day funk.

While fretting about a nuclear saber rattling Twit’s Tweet posted just three days prior to Christmas.

While dreading the incoming admin’s flat-out opposition to intellectual curiosity, integrity, diversity, equality, liberty and sobriety.

While dwelling upon how, in all likelihood, we’re a nation transitioning towards an ecological, economic, and societal nightmare… if not all out apocalypse.

Such serious reservations regarding that well-heeled, untrustworthy entity even caused me to free associate the motto appearing on my own nation’s oft-filthy lucre. Indeed, “In God We Trust” gets minted onto all of our currency and coins. As if what? That we could ever expect God to teach each and every moneygrubbing american [sic] not to worship that false god… a.k.a. the almighty buck? If He has attempted to get His message across before, it has, for the most part, fallen upon deaf ears.

My Godly thoughts next gravitated towards Christmas’ true meaning… about a birth, which, purportedly, had taken place long ago on this very night… off in the faraway land of Bethlehem.

It was about then when I sufficiently surfaced from my deep thoughts to realize the time had come to plink my six, silvery 25-cent pieces into the liquor store’s, storefront vending machine. Through the display glass I had already read one of the front page headlines… a report telling how homeowners, who are installing solar panels, are getting penalized with sky-high property tax assessments. Imagine that… instead of being commended, folks are being condemned for going green… having to shell out extra “green” because they had hoped to help save our planet.

Slowly shaking my head side to side, I slid my newspaper into my tote bag. At that stage, I could’ve immediately headed for home, but, all the sudden it dawned on me… considering the inconsiderateness of the soon to be installed new admin, this could very well be the last Christmas I (or anyone else) would be experiencing.

With that in mind, this called for a course-correcting maneuver.

I reset my bearings to pass through my once-upon-a-time neighborhood… revisit the place I had called home for the first seven years of my life. Perhaps I might even catch a glimpse of a framed in the window, fully lit Christmas tree? Maybe it’d even be located in the very same southwest corner of the living room, where, more than half a century earlier, my sister and I had discovered all the toys Santa had left for us?

Crossing at the next intersection and briefly heading west… then south, I deliberately slowed my pace as, yet, another little boy recollection kicked in. It had been on an early spring evening where I had raced my bike at top speed down this very same stretch of sidewalk. Oh, the freedom that once represented. Oh, the freedom that might soon be torn asunder.

Once at the bottom of this hill (both in memories and reality), I felt disappointment as I discovered the new occupants were still asleep and their holiday decorations were all dark.

With a long sigh, I hooked a left at the corner. Passing by a nearby home, the sound of a man filling his bird feeder with seed drew my attention leftward. As our eyes met, he wished me, “Merry Christmas”… and I echoed those sentiments back to him.

By this time, dawn’s early light had changed the sky from black to bluish gray. Walking past a hedge still sporting most of its brown leaves, all the sudden, I realized I was practically living out the lyrical story, which songsmiths Michelle and John Phillips had related in their mega hit, California Dreamin’. Deep down I, too, was California Dreamin’ on such a winter day… especially since that West Coast state is where my last surviving family members reside.

As I trekked onward, my next stop was the nearby town square. For multiple decades that main four-cornered intersection had boasted our one and only stoplight. As I peered up and down Michigan Avenue, I couldn’t help but notice how, while the skyline had basically remained the same, the storefronts certainly had wound up quite different from their yesteryear signage… as had their new proprietors’ offered products and services.

A tavern, nightclub and a several eateries had replaced a “Mom and Pop” grocery store, the “Five and Dime”, the Family Apparel and Gambles Hardware stores and the Rexall Soda Fountain / Drugstore. About the only businesses that have stayed the same and still remain within their original buildings are a bank and barbershop… albeit both under new ownership.

Of course, Christmas morn’s nearly non-existent, vehicular traffic would’ve made it so easy for me to fully flip off the crosswalk’s “Don’t Walk” admonition, yet, I waited obediently. I wanted to take in and fully savor, in its entirety, the recently renovated and resurfaced, disappearing into the eastern and western horizons, Michigan Avenue, itself.

Upon crossing over to the south side of the street, I soon found myself standing in front of a factory. Prior to its construction, that entire block had been zoned residential… and one of those homes had been where I had lived during the first two months of my life. Of course, images of that long ago, razed house now only exist in the snapshots posted in my family photo album.

Traveling down to the next intersection, I crossed Michigan Avenue once more and headed northward. With that California Dreamin’ story and lyrics still fresh in my mind, I stopped at a church I passed along the way… pausing long enough to admire their Nativity Scene… to offer up my heartfelt prayer to Him… to beseech Him to intervene… to deliver the Christmas present of tact to that hotheaded man… to spare humanity our eons too early mass grave.

I no sooner said my “Amen” than I began diagonally traversing the soon to be filled, church parking lot. I next crossed a side street to wind up right in front of the very first house my (then) newlywed parents had rented upon their arrival in town.

At that juncture, my Christmas morning hike was starting to come full circle. I did opt to return, one last time, to see if the Christmas decorations had finally lit up my old home. Alas… they hadn’t.

For the first time since setting forth that morn, I checked my wristwatch. I had covered all of this old, familiar ground in less than 40 minutes. Considering that it’d take me another 15 to make it back home, my entire walk down memory lane would be completed in under an hour.

Starting to feel a bit hungry in the here and now, I headed for home… where I’d soon be brewing up some fresh coffee, flipping pancakes and drowning them in maple syrup… flavors I’d be savoring as much as the “flavors” of my sweet memories.

With each forward step, I found myself hoping that my prayers for repeated, Divine Intervention in post Inauguration Day 2017 DC will be answered. If that’s not to be… well…

All I can do is urge all who read this… all over our world… to cherish our waning days of “normalcy”… to fully appreciate whatever good, we may still find… to hold on to our pleasant thoughts for as long as we still can. Regrettably, that all can be easily obliterated once a small handed, small thinker pushes that Big Badass Button.