READY: After Christmas thoughts from a confessed grump

Mary Ready, Ready or Not

Like my mother, I’m often glad when Christmas is over. Because I’m over-cooked, over-gift wrapped, over-card sent, over-shopped, over-tired, and over-spent. This year I didn’t cook that much, didn’t send cards, and ordered modest gifts on-line from Amazon.

I still enjoyed Christmas on the smaller scale.  And this season, with Frank so ill, I was blessed by an outpouring of kindness from Destin’s special Christmas angels. After my column appeared in the Log, the one about my down-sized holiday, I received offers to stay with my husband while I attended to Christmas preparations. One reader, whom I didn’t even know, came to my house with a big box of homemade goodies. Church members from Safe Harbor and First Baptist brought food and flowers.  

A friend I haven't seen in several years, after reading that column, brought me a homemade Red Velvet cake, a turkey, and a poinsettia. I got Christmas cards from two readers including their phone numbers if I needed to call them for help. It was this unexpected, but sweet-spirited response that epitomizes the ORIGINAL reason why we celebrate Christmas. If it weren’t for the generosity such as I’ve experienced this year, it would be all too easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the season and forget Who it is that we celebrate.

In previous years, when I actually shopped, I wore a button on my festive Christmas sweater proclaiming: “It’s OK to wish me MERRY CHRISTMAS. I won’t be offended,” I cringe when store clerks wish me “Happy Holiday,” but I’ve noticed some local stores, even the chain retailers, have lately returned to that greeting in spite of whether or not it may offend someone.   

And as long as I’m in a grumpy mood, something else I dislike is store clerks, etc. referring to me as “young lady.” I am NOT a young lady. And I do not fall into that teenage to 29 category that is more accurate for a “young lady” label.

But I’m also not ready to hear people my age being referred to as “little old lady” or “elderly,” or “senior citizen.” In my mind, I’m around thirty or so.

 In television or newspaper reports, I often hear of some 50ish or 60ish individual in accounts such as “The life guard who rescued the elderly man from the undertow and gave him CPR said of Joe Smith, 57, of Madison, Wisconsin, ‘I’m always having to be on the look-out for the older tourists who don’t realize how dangerous our waters can be.’”  In my opinion, the fellow may have been naïve, uniformed, or down-right stupid to be in the water on a red flag day, but why call him elderly?

Last week, I turned 68. And I’m still getting over the food poisoning from my birthday lunch at my former favorite seafood restaurant.

“Will you still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine? Will you lock the door? Will you still need me; will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” Even four years beyond that point, why did the Beatles feel that being 64 was next door to death? Incidentally, the two surviving ones, Paul and Ringo, are 71 and 73 respectively. And still active.

I’m not vain about my age. In fact, when I taught school, and my students asked me how old I was, they were always shocked that I would actually tell them. I have always liked whatever age I am at the moment, but I resent being categorized. However, I love it when my 93 year old mother says something like, “I don’t like old people. They smell bad.” Even looking at her silver white hair, I have a hard time thinking of her as elderly.

Maybe it really is true that age, like attitude, is a state of mind. As usual when I need affirmation from wiser folks, I start looking up quotes.  Here are my favorites on the topic of age: 

You’re only young once, but you can be immature for a lifetime.

To me, old age is always twenty years older than I am.

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter

The man never grows old who keeps a child in his heart.

Those who love deeply never grow old.

As a white candle in a holy place, so is the beauty of an aged face.

We didn’t stop dancing because we grew old; we grew old because we stopped dancing.

To avoid the grumpiness that sometimes accompanies aging, may we all- in the coming new year- continue dancing.

 Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.