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Chatterbox: The lucky ones


Last night, my family actually gathered around the television to watch (what else?) “A Christmas Carol.” We watched the version with George C. Scott as it is the closest to the actual book, in my opinion.

Critics say this particular Dickens story changed the way people viewed Christmas, altering it into a time for people to be more beneficent. It also reminds us of the flash paper that life is written on, that every day is a treasure, and that, though our youth is waning, we are still as instrumental as we make ourselves. We grow older and wiser, perhaps more financially solvent or with a better attitude, as people.

We’ve discussed yearning for old times often here at Chatterbox – the days when our skin fits perfectly with no pleats, pockets or draping, when we don’t look like corduroy – the fabric not the bear – when our muscles know what they are supposed to do and we still have cartilage, when kneeling and rising up again are swift and naturally occurring motions, and when even our elbows were beautiful.

For adults, life becomes about stability, necessities, doing dishes, laundry and running a home where no one has to dry off, after a shower, with yesterday’s socks. We try to serve wholesome food, and we dedicate ourselves to the every-est of our family’s instant needs, and make certain that the children feel safe and loved. We’re the lucky ones; much of the world has far more dire days.

Still, regardless of our wealth, success level, or life’s work, time is the great equalizer (and the charwoman who stole Scrooge’s bed curtains from his deathbed cackles). The kids will grow up and leave – if they can manage rent in America’s new economy.

As for us, we’ll be 40 pounds past our wedding weight yet our skin will be too big for us; it becomes pedestrian – lingering at all the corners and meandering around every curve. Try as we, and some surgeons, may, no amount of time, money or effort will prevent the sign of time upon anyone. If Hollywood has taught us anything, it has taught us that. Eyebrows can only go so high, lips can only be inflated so far, and no one should look like a Barbie doll that got too close to a space heater – not on purpose, at least.

Bette Davis said, “Old age is no place for wimps.” She was spot on. Our youth, strength, white teeth, pink gums and good cholesterol readings will desert us. Where we once needed a giant rubber band to make our pony tail, we can now use a twist tie from a bag of pretzels.

All things become their opposite: that which we would love shrink will stretch, and what should stretch, will shrink. What should go up goes down, and what should go down goes up. Our waists are too thick for belts but our earlobes are too thin to hold up our earrings. Our arms could be held naked in the wind and used as rescue sails after a shipwreck and, for us gals, certain body parts dip to such lows that we can abandon all hope of harassing them into a sports top. We could, though, buy them a pair of sneakers and demand that they walk on their own.

Young women shave their legs and tweeze their chin. Old women tweeze their legs and shave their chin, oh, and that sweet little butterfly we had tattooed on our shoulder when we were 19, becomes a circus tent under our belt. Seepage … we forgot to factor in the seepage.

Our home is quieter, our meals are smaller, our chores are fewer, and laundry day isn’t every day anymore, but we’ll yearn for the old, crazy times, even knowing we could never handle them again. We’ll wonder where it all went and how it went so quickly. How fleeting is that strong, busy and simple youth that we barely notice we even have hold of it before we have to look backwards to see it?

Still, there are always great moments to look forward to. It’s never too late for that … Ebenezer learned that. Good memories and things to celebrate are those treasures of the lucky ones, and they who are even luckier, are here to celebrate them.

We’ve said this often, “Do not bemoan growing old; it’s a privilege denied to many.” Author unknown … and time keeps on ticking.

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