Green Is the Color this December

Amy and I celebrate our 35th anniversary this December. That doesn’t seem possible, especially when I realize that she and I have spent much more than half of our lives together. The appropriate gifts for a 35th year are jade and coral. The color green perfectly describes the years we’ve spent together.

When we married, I was 22, and my bride was 19. Some might ask what we were thinking. The answer is we couldn’t live without each other. I left Amy in Cookeville in August to begin my teaching career but returned in December to marry her.

We were green horns in our new life together. So many things were waiting to be learned about marriage. We were on our own and had responsibility for paying bills and come up with tuition so Amy could complete her degree at UT. She worked part time and even joined the Army Reserves to bring in extra cash.

I never have understood why Amy married me. I’m only average in looks at best, while she has always been dazzlingly beautiful. The woman had her pick of guys, but in the end, she chose me. Over the years, my insecurity fed a jealous streak. When she left for summer camps with those reserves, I was green with jealousy, even though Amy never gave me any reason to feel that way.

We enjoyed our lives together for seven years before Lacey was born. During the pregnancy, the green came as Amy experienced morning sickness. She lived on crackers for some time before things settled down. When our daughter decided to make her appearance, green was the color of my face in the delivery room.

Dallas arrived a few years later. He and Amy both have green eyes, and they can look into a person’s soul. I’ve never been able to hide much from either of them. Both are quiet persons who are slow to anger and react. It’s that approach that drives me crazy. I’m impulsive; I want something done immediately. On so many occasions, I’ve had to admit that my wife was right. Ouch!

Amy Alice Moore Rector is an incredible woman. She’s been a wonderful mother, as is seen by the devotion to her by Lacey and Dallas. At work, Amy is respected as a caring manager and friend. Her extended family members recognize her as a loving niece and loyal cousin.

I’m the luckiest person of all. I’ve been blessed with a wife who has stuck with me through good and bad. Sometimes our road has been so rocky that we almost stumbled, but together we managed to right the course. Amy has taken care of our financial situation so that we have a comfortable home and dependable vehicles.
Most of all, Amy has put up with me. She’s loved me in spite of myself. She’s ignored my bad moods and sometimes stupid actions. In the end, Amy has stood on the other side of those things with patience and love.

This year is our green year. I hope the jade necklace that I have for her in some way can express my gratitude and love, even more now than on December 20, 1974.

Digging Out the Christmas Tree

I retrieved the Christmas tree from the basement, took the blower out to knock off any cobwebs and dust bunnies, and toted it to the living room. Sometime today, Amy and I will find the time to decorate it for the holiday season. I’m glad to see that old tree. It was absent from our house last year.

For a while, we’ve spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Cookeville. Amy’s mom wasn’t able to travel anymore. Her weakening body, failing health, and dependence upon dialysis made it impossible to her to make the journey to Knoxville. I always swore that Christmas Day would find me at home in Knoxville for at least part of the day. People who know me realize that I’m prone to make such rash statements without giving a moment’s thought to the future.

To them, it was no surprise to see me pack the car and aim our car west. There we met our children, Amy’s mom, and Aunt Mildred. The day was different but okay as long as we were surrounded by those we loved. The food was still good, the presents more than I deserved, and the sharing priceless.

Because our holiday was spent away from home, last year I decided not to decorate the house. I asked myself what was the use to expend so much energy hanging lights, decorating the tree, and scattering knick-knacks throughout the house. The only ones who would see those things were Amy and me. Then they’d be repacked and stowed away for another year. It was time to be LOGICAL, not emotional.

Decorations stayed in their containers, and the tree remained lonely in the basement with mowers, power tools, and wheel barrows. My spirits somehow remained tucked away some place.

The fact is that those festive items are the very things that spark in me the excitement of Christmas. As children, we decorated the tree with our mother as daddy sat and watched. Mother put out the manger scene that now is in my daughter’s home. Wreaths were in the windows. Our house was warm with the excitement of the season.

When the kids were young, we continued the tradition. The family decorated the tree with music or a holiday television special on the television. The strands of lights were never turned on until all the decorations were hung. Every other light in the house was turned off, and then the tree was plugged in. Amy, Lacey, Dallas, and I sat quietly around the tree and let the thrill of Christmas sink in.
Last year a case of “Bah humbug” invaded. My eyes were blinded to the real reason trees and wreaths and Santa figures. That led to a depressing situation. I’d sucked the joy out of Christmas by being too lazy to follow traditions.

Even at fifty-seven, I’m learning about life. This year that Christmas tree will be decorated and brightly lit. The porch is already decorated with lights. Amy will pull out a couple of boxes of doodads to place on tables and shelves. From now on, I won’t complain a minute. I know how my good cheer is tied to those symbols. A Christmas tree is the kindling for happiness during the season.

Getting Acquainted

It’s that time of year for families. Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to be forces that pull all sorts of relatives together. For my brother Jim and me, a Saturday evening served as a reconnections with cousins.

Jim, cousins Charlie and Brenda, and I were born within three months of each other. Our families were close, and holidays were spent together during our childhoods. We played outside in all sorts of weather and made up our own adventures. Sometimes we also tormented each other for sport. It was as if the four of us were brothers and sister instead of cousins.

Brenda lived not even a mile from us in those days. We went to Ball Camp Elementary and Karns High. She was the smartest person I’d ever known. Jim and Brenda were in sixth grade together, and my mother was their teacher. She was amazed that Brenda scored so high on achievement tests that they ran through the roof. In high school, Brenda was one of those few persons who made a perfect score in the ACT. At the same time, she enjoyed all the activities that go with high school.

Over the years, she has worked in law enforcement and has traveled to several areas. For the last couple of years, she has lived in Knoxville and again not more than a mile from the house. Shamefully, we’d seen each other only one time when she was in the hospital.

Charlie, Jim, and I shared plenty of make believe times during our younger years. That included playing army in the woods behind the house and building imaginary cars with bricks and sticks. On weekends, we would spend the night at Charlie’s house and the next day catch a bus to downtown and take in a movie. No adults chaperoned us. In high school Charlie came to live with us for a year. He and I became running buddies then, and it continued until I left for college. During those times we ran the roads, drank alcohol, chased girls, although we were afraid to catch any, and postured for fights that never materialized. Charlie was involved in a car wreck that darn near killed him. His injuries had us all scared, but he recovered and remained the same guy we’d always loved.
Charlie, too, is a brilliant individual. At an early age, he taught himself calligraphy. His drawings were precise and detailed. He worked at Mercer’s Television Shop as a young boy. He learned the printing trade and became a master of the craft. Charlie is no stranger to hard work either. He’s handled marble and now works in Townsend at an RV park where he can do anything.

Facebook reconnected us. Jim brought us together. It had been as many as twenty years since we’d assembled. Amazingly, the time seemed to have melted away. The four of us fell into conversations as if we talked every day. A bonus on the evening was the presence of Charlie’s sister Sherry and Brenda’s sister Sandy. By the time we broke up, our stomachs were sore from laughing and our friendships had been rekindled.

We’re all orphans now. Our parents left us several years ago, and at least one brother/cousin has passed. I had no idea how much I missed my cousins until I sat with them again. Brenda posted pictures of the evening on her Facebook page, and she put things perfectly when she wrote, “The circle is no longer broken.” One thing’s for sure: we won’t wait another twenty years to get together and it won’t have to be a holiday.