This is a re-visit of a “Marlboro Musings” originally published in December, 2000. The best part about this old piece of work is that the additional years have only fortified its foundation; the feelings behind these words are as strong and true today–when it’s now been 50+ years in that old house–as the day they were first thought and written. “Blessed” ain’t a strong enough word for the life I’ve lived and the gifts I’ve been granted.
By Gray Bostick
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. Her decorations, she said, just didn’t look right and, she added, as a result, Christmas just didn’t feel like Christmas.
This got me to thinking about how fortunate I’ve been to have always had 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 more than my share of places–I’ve always had that familiar scene to drag out of my memory bank 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 on Townsend Street.
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 in what order the stockings had been hung. How it smelled due to Mom’s seasonal candles. How busy the kitchen would be.
A lot of things have changed, some many, many times. But not that old house.
That’s the very same house that we used to depart from when we’d walk downtown to look in store windows or view storefront Christmas lights.
The very same den where I sat 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, an object that was headed southward over Canada.
The very same bedroom where I would lie awake on Christmas Eve as a kid, too excited to fall asleep immediately, later claiming to have stayed up all night awaiting Santa.
The very same hallway that I would quietly sneak down early Christmas morning to peer through the beveled hallway glass door into the living room to see if Santa had arrived yet.
The very same dining room where we would gather to eat a battalion-sized breakfast on Christmas morning.
The very 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 very same driveway we would depart from early that day, then wearily return to later that night 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.
Whether we realize it or not, people such as you and I are beyond blessed to have had this town, and the other constants of small-town life, such as generations-long friends and community closeness in our lives. It serves to give us a sense of belonging; those things root us to our past, yet also help prepare us for our future.
Now, at the dawn of a new millennium, we need to recognize that we are not only in charge of our own futures, but more importantly, that we are also responsible for those that follow.
Remember that when you look into those happy young faces Christmas morning, and make up your mind to make things better.
It WILL make a difference.
May God Bless you and yours, this Christmas and always.