Alexander Film Works

Archive for December 15th, 2013|Daily archive page

Endings, Beginnings, & All Points In Between…

In beginnings, film, Film and Related, writing on December 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I resist writing about the ever-increasing maw of consumerism that now has coopted Thanksgiving, and threatens Halloween next, in the mad dash for Christmas profits.
That’s something I see no need to add an opinion to.
Instead, something a bit more personal…
The middle of the month of December, from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (all you Catholics, or recovering Catholics like me, know that’s the 8th of December) until the Solstice (usually the 21st), has never been a time of resounding joy for me… at least, since the year 1963.
Fifty years ago.
On the 13th, I was living with my grandmere and Uncle George, and Grandmere laid down for a nap before tea. In the early afternoon Uncle George sent me in to ask her if she wanted a cuppa… I found that she had passed on in her sleep.
Not exactly a pleasant memory for a boy three days shy of his seventh birthday…
The succeeding days, including my birthday, went by in a hazy blur, and I was brought to the funeral home to see her lying in repose. (She was not an official of any kind, other than being in the Altar Society at our parish, so she did not “lie in state”.) Her casket was driven to our parish church, a short distance, and she was brought in for the funeral Mass. (If I remember right, since this was pre-Vatican II, it was a Latin High Funeral Mass.) At the conclusion, her casket was taken out to the hearse, and I was brought to the cemetery along with the other mourners, to see the graveside service. (They still did those at that time.)
The sixteenth, of course, is the day of which I speak somewhat fondly, the anniversary of my arrival. 9:07 AM, Central Standard Time (10:07 Eastern Standard Time), in Chicago, Illinois. The hospital is no longer in existence, and I am given to understand the location is now part of the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, on the South Side. (Chicagoans know that particular locations in the city are Capitalized that way; Old Town, the Near North Side, et cetera.)
Within fifteen days from my birth my grandmere, of whom I spoke earlier, had taken the bus to Chicago and brought me back home to Detroit. (I was baptized at our parish church on the 31st of December.)
Three days after my birthday, the 19th, is the birthday of My Beautiful Wife Megan’s baby brother, Bobby. Bobby was the last of six children my mother-in-law had borne, and was therefore that much more precious to them all.
My wife’s family had a tradition… there was a gentleman in the American Legion who played Santa Claus for a few special people, and he showed up at my in-laws’s house for several years. This time, on Christmas Eve, when he showed up, he said he had a special present for my wife, who was then almost eleven years old. He handed her Bobby, bundled up like a doll. Well, she took that to heart, and was going to bed him down in the doll crib in her room (which he fit quite well); when her mother came in, she didn’t want to give him up, saying “Santa gave him to me! He’s mine!” {Or words to that effect.}
Needless to say, there was a special closeness between the two dating from that very day… and when Bobby was killed in an auto accident in 1977, there was a great deal of shock and trauma.
My being born nine days before Christmas (and Bobby being born six days before) had an influence on how we viewed the holidays; forming my perceptions more deeply was the fact that my Uncle George worked for the Post Office as a clerk, which meant from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, the P.O.D. (remember, until 1971, it was a part of the Department of the Interior) would have mandatory overtime… I still have an award Uncle George received for working twelve hours, coming home, getting an hour or two sleep, and going back in to work another twelve hour shift during the season. For six weeks or so, I barely saw him at all. There was no real time to be festive, to decorate everything, to be filled with the “holiday spirit”. Before Grandmere died, we had an early artificial tree; it had the aluminum tinsel branches on twisted wire, inserted into a wooden dowel for a trunk. After Grandmere died, that tradition pretty well faded out, too. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were at about two o’clock in the afternoon, so Uncle George could watch football befoe getting some sleep before his midnight tour.
I don’t have a lot of festive memories of the month of December; any traditions Megan and I have are agreed-upon between us, and have been honored more in the breach than the observance this year… It’s not been a great time.
Still and all, we have each other (for whatever that’s worth), we have our two cats, Gabrielle and Babe, and we have a small cadre of friends.
Sometimes I hope it’s enough…

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