A few weeks later my six-year-old grandchild read five books to me:-- The Zoo Book, Fun Days, The Counting Book, Willy Bear, and The Mouses’ Terrible Christmas. She read, her pony tails flopping around as she emphasized certain words, and pronounced the last syllables of words such as “garden,” and “splendid,” and “sparkling” with such expression, I remembered many years ago teaching my own daughter how to sound out syllables. It was a magical moment to witness how reading a story opens up a new world for a child.
Another magical experience was the funeral service of a fine neighbor who died after a brief illness. Even at the age of 83, he was too young to die. His life was the subject of a high mass in a beautiful church by a priest who did not stint when it came to performing the rituals and saying the appropriate words. I sat, mesmerized, aware that some people live so fully that nothing but a fine service will suffice.
A planned Christmas dinner never materialized, the New Year’s Eve gathering we have attended for years wasn’t held, and a party had to be cancelled. Flu, colds, unexpected company, and schedules intervened, yet it was magical one evening to hear the doorbell and be the recipients of a bunch of carolers. It also was wonderful to listen to the PBS special “Live from Lincoln Center’s New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve: La Vie Paris” performance, and nothing has been finer than to watch a couple of great football games.
A gathering at my other daughter and her husband’s lovely home was another memorable time with children bouncing and tumbling, a game of billiards going, and a loyal dog who wandered from person to person, sniffing good cheer.
I mention these examples because this season’s experiences—flu bugs and all-- will blend into a myriad of memories that will sustain me, encourage me, and give me pleasure in the coming years. Memories, magical or otherwise, form the basis of place, and “place” figures in every great and lasting story. Think about it. Whether it’s Walking the Dunes with Tennessee Williams (Provincetown, MA) as Mia Elkovsky Phoebus remembers or Ruth Baker’s Desert Surprise (Israel), books and memories tell of adventures and poignant observations. May this New Year bring you and yours memorable and magical moments.