Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


You've got time, you know, when you're retired, so I bought a craigslist super-offer Magnavox combo vhs/dvd player from a guy in South Dakota, a real steal, I thought, after failing miserably with a gizmo that was supposed to turn our ancient vhs tapes into dvds, vhs technology being as dead as movie disks these days.  It's a job I can do in retirement, you know.

But my legendary clutziness kept me from operating the Magnavox too, so I called in my son-in-law, who proceeded to get it going in no time flat. When he did, what appeared on the screen was an endless loop of endless shots featuring four-month baby so delightfully boring only a grandparent could love it. Anyone else might take two minutes maybe, but this video really wanted to be a feature film.  It would not end. 

Like I said, you have to be a grandpa. And it has to be the first time.

Or a grandma. Or a mom. Or a dad. Or the baby herself, who's now edging dangerously close to teenagerism and had never seen this display of her babyness before.

There we sat, five of us, watching this ancient, a four-month old pudgy sweetheart on one of those perpetual swings, back and forth, back and forth, the only five people on the face of the earth who could be so totally enchanted. Well, maybe her Opa and Oma too, but they were in California--five human beings staring at a drooling baby on a swing.

Here's what happened. We were sitting there, thus enthralled, smack dab on top of our four-year-old grandson's Lego land. We were in his way, so to speak, and were paying him no mind because of that dumb baby.

All of which seemed totally mysterious to him.  "Who is that?" he said.  Remember, he's four.

"That's your sister," I told him.

That made zero sense.

"Where's Pieter?" he asked, meaning his big brother, who wasn't anywhere near the drawing boards just then, that swinging sister of his soaking up every last bit of her parents' attention--firstborn and all of that. Where was Pieter when his sister was a baby?--he wondered. A very good question.

"Pieter's not around," someone said, barely paying him mind.

Okay, but then, "Where was I?" he said.  Why wasn't he in the film?

That one got our attention but pulled no answers because we were too taken by the kid in the video to explain life and death and human destiny to a four-year-old with his little hands full of Legos.
What he could see was that everyone in the room right then was transfixed by a some salivating baby doing nothing more than holding her head up. Everyone he knows is gone in this goofy film he doesn't begin to understand, the whole room a vault of silence, and nobody's answering his perfectly logical questions, and that baby can't even talk or play Legos. 

"Why are we watching this video?" he announces.

A perfectly understandable question. There's no way in heck he can begin to understand what's happening on his own Lego playing field.  

"Why are we watching this video?" he says.

My wife and I have been laughing about that question for three days.  Nothing made sense right then, nothing at all.

So dear, so darling, because, oh-my-goodness, how oh-so-perfectly human.  

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