The Moral of the Story?

I was driving a Ford Ranger at the time. Which of my two red trucks I don’t remember, but I think the newer one, the 2002. I’d met Denis Joseph Francis Callahan at Pacific Beach for one of our Sunday walks down and up the beach from Pacific to Mission Beach, a long, ambulatory conversation that usually culminated in “a pie” (pizza) or a burger.

There were a few Christmas trees along the beach, a few paid for by the beach towns along the way, trees made of sand, decorated with lights. Fake plastic garlands and all the gimcrack of the holidays which, thinking about it now, was a little funny looking but seemed all right at the time, even the unbelievable plastic icicles. Denis and I were colleagues at a community college and over the years had become good friends. For a short time I had a crush on Denis but that didn’t happen. Later in our relationship — much later — he fell for me but that didn’t happen.

We had a wonderful walk that day. Hugged, said our “Merry Christmases” to each other, and went our separate ways. In a day or two, I would head to Montana to spend the holidays with my aunts. When I got into my truck, and turned on the engine, the radio came up playing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

I never liked that song. I thought it was stupid and not in the least Christmasy, but all of a sudden, there in my 50s, it made total melancholy sense. I sat in my truck and cried.

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were near to us
Will be dear to us once more
Someday soon
We all will be together
If the Fates allow.

Suddenly I understood those lyrics. Grown-up Christmas is also about loss. Christmas has a way of bringing all our losses — our lost loves — into the center of our vision. It’s hard for people.

Yesterday I read a book that began with a beautifully written discussion of the challenges to childhood education presented by the Covid 19 pandemic. The author is focused on education in a part of the world without all the resources and options of a wealthy country. What’s more, it’s a culturally complex region where outside influences have challenged the ability of the citizens of the various areas to live peacefully with themselves. Covid added hunger to ignorance.

It seems like a long time ago for me in my lucky little perch here in Heaven, the Pandemic and how we obtuse humans attempted to address it. Paradoxically, the book presented its ideas as a chance to start over. It’s never said directly, but in the charts and the discussion was the other side of loss. “This is where we are right now.”

After great loss, we DON’T live in the same world. I don’t know if the author was thinking of this in writing this book, but the question that emerged is “How can we do better with this world than we did with that world?”

That is a really good question. Maybe the best one.

19 thoughts on “The Moral of the Story?

  1. I have worked really hard to maintain the connections and natural learning opportunities throughout all of this, and know some things were lost, but some were also gained. I had parents, sibs, and pets join our morning meeting zooms, and the parents learned how to play with their children again, which for many had long been neglected.

    • I think all of that is wonderful. Whenever you write about teaching, I just think your kinder are really lucky.

      One thing I got from that book was how lucky we are to be here. The world this writer was describing has basic literacy problems among adults. It’s also largely rural, wildly multi-cultural, and the many poor areas there are few computers, electric grid problems, no Internet. But here’s a book with a coherent and reasonable plan to start over. I was really moved.

  2. I’m glad to hear this weather is going to miss you because you know I thought of you right away. Down here it is all new territory. We are told to bring in plants and pets, wrap any pipes or let them drip. Which is kind of funny because people down here used to purposely turn on their sprinklers and the next day to see that frozen spray on someone’s lawn was truly photo-worthy. Anyway, we go down to 21 tonight and some of my plants out front have already turned black from the cold and wind of last night.

    • It’s pretty strange because normally HERE is colder than, say, Colorado Springs, but not this time. We’ll get though. 21 is cold for down there. 😦

  3. Yes. Christmas puts loss front and center but we carry on. Adapting to the new state of this world isn’t always fun or easy but it is what makes us survivors… we are at -3F and the wind chill is -31F. My front door is whistling (and its not a happy tune)! 😦

  4. Can I ask the book title? My daughter is a teacher now, did her first year during covid. She is teaching computers to 8th graders. Pretty difficult time to start and I am so proud of her.

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