November 22, 2018, Prescott-
There is no more important institution in this world than family. I have spent time, this year, with people who cherish their families and those who despise their families. Counting myself among the former, I enjoyed communication with one of my siblings, and left messages for my mother and two other siblings. Son and daughter-in-law are on for tomorrow, by Messenger phone.
My family also includes those close to me here. In late morning, I went with one of my better friends to an early holiday meal. A young couple included me in their noon Thanksgiving gathering, so five of us enjoyed a perfect, complete traditional dinner, in the couple’s comfortable home in Dewey, a twenty-minute drive from Prescott. The meal had a British, rather Celtic, touch to it, having been largely prepared by a delightful young lady form England, who is a co-worker of the husband. I ate with relish, but in moderation, knowing there was another gathering in store for me, later on. After a wide-ranging, two-hour conversation, following the meal, I headed home for a brief rest.
Towards evening, I headed out again, for yet another perfect gathering, at the forest home of another of my best friends. The family, whom I have known for five years, was joined this year by my friend’s older daughter and her bright, engaging 2-year-old grandson. It’s always a sublime pleasure to watch a child experiencing things which we may regard as commonplace, for the first time, and with great enthusiasm. He had great joy showing me each of his toy vehicles and telling what they were. His other pleasure was in helping decorate his grandmother’s Christmas tree. My friend pulls out all the stops in her holiday meal, with plenty of help from her two daughters and a sister. After the meal, we all watched “The Greatest Showman”, which reminded me of the very basic commitment that is family and how easy it is to lose track of what matters.
I have had my variation on the dilemma faced by P.T. Barnum- Does career matter so much that family becomes trivial? My choice was similar to his; when career threatened my marriage, I pulled back from work. When Penny’s health declined, work became nearly irrelevant, much to the consternation of my superiors and their politician-benefactors. Like Barnum, I bounced back and survived.
In the long term, my son is doing well, as are my siblings. Mother is holding her own. I am in a good place, in terms of work and in terms of friends. The bedrock, though, is in how I was raised and in the importance I have given to those closest to me. That will only get stronger, as time goes on.