The tree has been recycled, the ornaments put away. Alabama ended the college football bowl season with an exclamation point while CBS announcer Brent Musburger has re-rolled his tongue into his mouth. And so at long last the holiday season is behind us, and the routines of everyday life have returned.
For some, gift-giving and receiving were the high points of the season past, while for many others it was the family get-togethers. At the same time there is always an element of going-along-to-get-along about our holidays, an aspect of “well, I’ve got to do this, so let’s get on with it” as we trudge through the malls and sift through the internet offers. Not that the gifts don’t have meaning, it’s just there is an expectation to it all.
It’s the same around birthdays, anniversaries, or any other gift-giving times. This is something I’m expected to do – we all are. On reflection, I much prefer my late-father’s approach.
It must be 30 years ago now, but my brother was living in California at the time with wife and two young children. Accordingly, he couldn’t afford to fly home to St. Louis for the holidays. And with me living in Boston, it had been something like seven years since the core family unit – two parents, we three kids – had last been together.
One year in the mid-1980s while I was in Chicago in October for the marathon I called home just to say hi. Imagine my surprise when who should answer the phone but my younger brother.
My, “What are you doing there?” led to his, “Just stopped by driving east.”
Seizing upon the opportunity I caught a short flight to Lambert St. Louis Airport, and by 8 p.m. the five of us – Mom, Pop, sister Teresa (with husband Pete), brother Marek and I – were seated at the bar at Duff’s, our favorite Central West End restaurant run by friends of mine from high school.
As we ordered drinks waiting for our table, still a little in shock that we were all together, Pop leaned over, looked at his family all sitting in a row, and apropos of nothing said, “Tone, you’re the only one here not wearing a ring.”
And he promptly removed the star-sapphire ring he’d been wearing for as long as I could remember, and handed it to me.
“Happy Tuesday,” he said.
Looking back, that Happy Tuesday remains the best gift I’ve ever received. Not simply because it was something personal from Pop, but because there wasn’t a holiday, birthday, or anniversary in sight. Instead, Pop had simply made the everyday special by identifying a moment in time, and claiming it as ours alone.
As we say good-bye to this holiday season and 2013 moves along, here’s hoping there’s a Happy Tuesday for you or someone near to you somewhere in the months ahead. You’ll not forget it, of that I am quite sure.