(This is a re-print of a “Marlboro Musings,” originally published December, 2000. The best part about this story is that, 15 additional years have only fortified its foundation; these words are as true today as the day they were written. Blessed ain’t a strong enough word. GB)
My parents have lived in the same house for about 35 years.
Now, you might think too much about that statement, but bear with me and I’ll explain.
I agree, you normally don’t think about this type of thing over the holidays, but I was speaking with a friend who recently moved for the first time in over a decade, and she related how odd Christmas felt this year. Decorations, she said, didn’t look right and, she added, Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas.
This got me to thinking about how fortunate I’ve been to always have 128 Townsend Street, Bennettsville, South Carolina to anchor the various stages of my life.
No matter where I’ve lived, and judging from the multiple entries for me in Mom’s address book, it’s been a lot of places, I’ve always had that familiar scene to drag out of my memory to give me some sense of continuity.
Whether I was sitting in an apartment in Augusta, Georgia wishing I was here, or sitting on a beach on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands unable to get here, I was never more than a daydream away from that old house.
And in my mind, I knew just how it would look. Where the Christmas tree was situated. How the furniture had been rearranged. How and where the stockings were hung. How it smelled due to Mom’s seasonal candles. How busy the kitchen would be.
A lot of things have changed, some many times, but not that old house.
That’s the very same house that we used to leave when we’d walk downtown to look in store windows or view Christmas lights.
The same den that I sat in years ago and watched as TV weathermen reported on the progress of a strange radar contact that had been made with an airborne object in the area of the North Pole, and object that was headed our way. The very same bedroom where I would lie awake on Christmas Eve as a kid, too excited to fall asleep immediately, and later claimed to have stayed up all night awaiting Santa.
The same hallway that I would sneak down early Christmas morning to peer through a glass door into the living room to see if Santa had yet arrived.
The same dining room where we would gather to eat breakfast on Christmas morning.
The same yard that we would burst out into to play with new toys, or venture down the street from to check out the gifts received by the other kids in the neighborhood.
The same driveway we would wearily return to later that day after visiting both grandparents’ homes for lunch and then dinner.
Yes, I remember growing up in Bennettsville, and I grow more and more grateful for it every year. It’s a big part of who I am, and one of the primary reasons I am back here today.
Whether we realize it or not, people such as you and I are blessed to have this town and other constants such as generations-long friends, neighborhood and community in our lives. It serves to give us a sense of belonging; it roots us to our past, yet prepares us for our future.
Now, at the dawn of a new millennium, we need to recognize that we are in charge of our futures, but more importantly, that we are responsible for the next generations also. Remember that when you look into those happy faces Christmas night, and make up your mind to make things better.
It WILL make a difference.
May God Bless you and yours, this Christmas and always.