Christmas words for my merry little gentlemen
A rousing Christmas morning to all! Heartfelt greetings for the very old to the very young. This would include my father who has been on this blessed planet of ours as of today for some 35,712 days and counting. Give or take a Leap Year day. That covers all or parts of a dozen decades. This would also include my two new grandboys who have been on this blessed planet of ours as of today for all of 190 days combined. And counting. Yeah, they are new to this whole life thing.
So let the following be a Christmas message of sorts to Giacomo Jerome Santora Jr. and August Charles Clair. “Rome” was born August 25 and “Auggie” on October 19. They are healthy, happy and brimming with the kind of wonderment that only comes with wide-eyed infants. May they remain that way. Here goes and let this become a family memento of sorts. Or something like that.
Hi boys. You should have started to understand the intent of my words when you first reached adulthood. Maybe a smidge more. Like 20 years old. If so then, maybe you were completing college or acquiring trade skills. Perhaps, serving our country. By then, this grandpa will be long in the tooth or, well, just plain long gone.
I would like to tell you that life comes with happiness guarantees stamped on the back of birth certificates. It doesn’t. By now you should know that. Nothing is a given. There will be an amusement park full of ups and downs. That is part of the process, part of your own particular journey. While growing up you have experienced some good, some bad and some sad. The good times can be as slippery as watermelon seeds and get away from you. Try as you might not to, you are going to get grass stains on those new jeans.
Don’t ever lose sight of what is in front of you instead of constantly looking in your own rear view mirrors. Learn from your mistakes but don’t be blinded by their reflections. It has been said that failure is not falling down but not wanting to get back up. Get back up and dust yourself off. You will whiff at times. Hey, Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times and he did OK for himself.
There are times when we all have to spit into the wind. Just because you lose at something doesn’t mean you are a loser. Take on a double-dog dare even if you wind up on double-secret probation. Whatever that is. Find a Huckleberry friend and sail down your own Moon River. Slay a dragon and chase windmills. Sink long birdie putts. Lick stadium mustard off your fingers while eating a dog at the ballpark. Play jacks and shoot marbles.
Remember that with self-respect comes self-honor. With boyhood comes manhood. Remember that bad karma has a big wardrobe of disguises. So don’t encourage bad fate. If you have to look over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching when about you are about to make what could be a terrible choice then don’t do it. Plain and simple, don’t. You will feel better for it.
The hope here is that you are willing students of life which is a great teacher. Explore your own personal classroom. Go out and thread your own needle. Be whimsical. Be inquisitive. The best treasures aren’t buried far under ground or stashed away in safe boxes. Learn to hit a curve ball. Learn to play a musical instrument. Learn to act. Learn magic. Write poetry. Learn new words and the names of state capitals and names of all the presidents in order. And backwards. Stick a toe in the water. Learn to drive a stick shift and parallel park. Just because. Whatever tug of fulfillment you feel, go for it. Make a splash. Sing that “bum, bum, bum!!! part of “Sweet Caroline” at the top of your lungs. Except, that is, when you are in church or a library.
When needed ask “why.” Or “why not?” Keep scratching that itch of curiosity. It will and already has shaped you into who you are. Feel your own good vibrations. There are times when you feel like you are riding a rainbow. There are times when you will be taken for a ride. Soak in life like a parched farm field does the heavy rain from thunderstorm. Stare at a horizon on a smoldering summer eve and watch flashes of lightning from a storm. And, then count the moments until the thunder claps arrive. It is a simple, cool thing to do.
Blow your breath on a frosty window. Look for shapes in clouds. Catch snowflakes on your tongue and catch deep flyballs hit in the gap. Catch a glimpse of that cute girl in class that your buddies are too timid to approach. Blushes aside, she might be wanting and waiting for you do just that. If you get pushed by the bully on the school playground — yes, every school has one or more — take the high road, turn and walk away. If it persists, then go ahead and slug him in his damn mouth And then turn and walk away. Sometimes that is exactly what it takes. Remember it’s never a sucker punch if they are looking at you. Those words of wisdom were passed down to me by my big brother.
Enjoy the sounds of nature and pet sounds. Like the babble of a brook, a frog’s croak, a kitten’s purr, a bird’s chirp and the rustling of the wind. Enjoy the many tastes and touches of life. Hold a butterfly. Be tender. Be kind. Be on time for school. Stay humble. Vanity is a toxin. It often clouds your self-image and poisons how others look at you.
Please remember to tell those you hold a genuine love for that, yes, you do love them. Those are the best words a person wants to hear. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to cry. Real men aren’t. Remember how much your grandpa loves you. God only knows how thankful I am. And, somewhere along your growing up, you realized that there was no Santa Claus. Hope that wasn’t too startling. But always keep and nurture the notion of a spirit of Christmas and the wholeness of life. All the good will and cheer. Never lose that.
Give life a chance. Never stop loving your parents. Both of you boys were blessed with great parents. Honor them. Even when they tell you to wash behind your ears and eat all your veggies. It’s part and parcel with parenthood. Mind your Ps and Qs and all the other letters of the alphabet for that matter. Never be embarrassed to hold your mom’s hand while crossing a busy intersection. Or giving her a Valentine’s Card no matter what your age is. Play catch often with dad. Or mom. A good parent doesn’t stop being a parent when a child crosses the threshold into adulthood. Appreciate that.
But for now God rest ye my merry little gentlemen on your first Christmas morn. Enjoy your ninny blanket and bottles. Enjoy your sleep time full of little boy blues, cows jumping over the moon and unicorns.
Next time this year each of you will be a year old and change. Umm, yes, you will be older and wiser. And, of course, you will choose to play not with the $500 playsets your first-time parents got you but instead the cardboard boxes they came in. After all, it’s become a family tradition.