It’s eight days until Thanksgiving. The neighbor’s house is buzzing. There are vehicles lining the street. Minivans, trucks, SUVs, Fords, Kias.
My neighbor’s family is in town to celebrate an early holiday. His grandchildren just arrived from Georgia. They’re playing in the front yard. I overhear them screaming, “TAG! YOU’RE IT!”
“I’M NOT IT! YOU’RE IT!”
“OUCH! I’LL KILL YOU!”
“I DARE YOU TO TRY!”
Just yesterday, a cantankerous elderly man up the street asked if I would help hang his Christmas lights. I reminded him that it’s too early. He insisted. So, I pointed out that I’ve had two back-surgeries, one tonsillectomy, and I’m Southern Baptist.
He is Pentecostal and doesn’t believe in tonsillectomies.
It took three hours on a ladder to hang those god-forsaken lights. He stood below and preached my ear off for the entire time.
When we were through, I was sweating. He opened a garage refrigerator and asked if I wanted an ice-cold chocolate milk.
“That depends,” I said. “Is it manufactured by the Anheuser-Busch Company?”
Some Pentecostals can’t take a joke.
“Chocolate milk will be fine,” I remarked.
Christmas comes earlier each year. It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that children in pirate costumes were at my front door, panhandling for candy. Now it’s Christmas lights in November.
And if you ask me, the holidays can’t get here quick enough.
My wife has already started cooking to get a jumpstart on Thanksgiving. She’s practicing. Our little home is alive with aroma. It smells like cornbread dressing, allspice, and sweet potato pie.
There are candied pecans on the counter—fresh from the baking sheet. My wife will brain any man who ventures near them. This I know from the trial-and-error approach.
A ham is in the oven. And a poundcake is in the immediate vicinity. I sampled both without permission this morning and got neutered with a melon baller.
She also made cheese-straws, lemon squares, chocolate chip cookies, peanut brittle, and peppermint bark.
And before bed tonight, she will boil a bushel of peanuts. She will place them on the stove before we turn the lights out.
Her boil-pot is the size of a Lincoln Continental. I love her so much it makes my eyes blur.
The truth is, I used to hate holidays. They made me remember how lonely I was. They made me feel like an orphan. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel lucky. Lucky and grateful.
Anyway, you ought to see this November sunset. The sky is dreary, the air is a crisp fifty-eight, and I can see twinkling lights in the distance, belonging to a Pentecostal.
My neighbor’s grandchildren are done playing with him. My neighbor’s adult son is my age, he walks off the porch. He hugs his dad. The two grown men embrace for awhile.
“I love you, Dad,” says the son.
“Love you, son.”
I won’t lie. Sometimes, I wish I had a father to hug for the holidays. But I don’t. So if you happen to have one, you ought to hug him so hard you hear his bones pop. And I mean soon.
If you don’t have a father.
Find me. I could always use a good hug.