“It’s wonderful to live long. Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one’s family and to achieve one’s goals. But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it.” ~ Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, 105, Japanese doctor, educator, and authorSource
Vinnie fell asleep holding Rupert. Dexter was sleeping on the floor at Vinnie’s feet. Vinnie’s dad was traveling on US 87 through Big Springs, Lamesa, and Tahoka before reaching Lubbock, home of Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
Vinnie’s mom says, “Dear, should we stop and take a bathroom break? My bladder’s nearly full.”
“Mine is too. We’ve had two hours of peace. Do we want to give it up?” asks Vinnie’s dad.
“Maybe we can take turns going to the restroom and let him sleep,” offers Vinnie’s mom.
“Amarillo is a little less than two hours. Should we chance it? There are hardly any places to stop on this road. The small towns have the big rough tough looking cowboy types,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Are you afraid a cowboy will steal me?” chides Vinnie’s mom.
“No, we have Dexter and Rupert to protect you.” Vinnie’s dad says and laughs. “Let’s stop, we’ll have to sooner or later. I can get gas and we can get to our motel at a decent hour.”
Vinnie’s dad signals to exit. At the end of the exit ramp is a red light. He stops. Suddenly from the seat opposite Vinnie, Dexter presses his nose against the window and begins barking that turns into a howl hitting every note on the B major scale.
Vinnie opens his eyes, he rubs them, and turns toward Dexter, “What’s wrong, Dexter? What’s wrong?”
Vinnie’s dad now wishing he held it says, “Nothing. I think Dexter saw a dog.”
Vinnie’s mom regretting suggesting they stop says, “Dexter stop.” Dexter interprets Vinnie’s mom’s words as “It’s food time,” and howls even louder.
“What’s wrong with Dexter, Vinnie? Can you get him to quiet down?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad considers going through the red light hoping it will stop Dexter’s howling.
“Dad! Dad! Dad! I know the problem. Look! Look! Look!” hollers Vinnie gesturing with his finger to something outside the SUV.
“I’m driving, Vinnie. I can’t look,” says his dad.
“No, Dad. You’re not driving. You’re at a red light. Why are you looking at your iPhone. I think looking at cell phones while you’re driving is against the law. Will they put Dad in jail in the police catch him, Mom? Will they, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom reaches over and takes the iPhone from Vinnie’s dad. “Vinnie, Dad won’t go to jail. I have his iPhone,” says Vinnie’s mom. “What is Dexter barking at?”
“Can’t you smell it, Mom? Look in the parking lot near the gas pumps they’re barbecuing. Can we have some barbecue, Mom? Can we? I’m starving.”
“No, Vinnie. We are not going to eat Barbecue.”
“Why, Mom. Why?”
“Because why, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She wonders if Google has an answer. Vinnie’s mom believes life would be so simple if Google could answer most of Vinnie’s questions. She says, “Because barbecue isn’t healthy.”
“Why do they sell it, Mom. If it’s bad, why do they sell it? Why, Mom?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Mom’s a vegetarian, Vinnie. Vegetarians think meat is bad for you.”
“Why does she let you and me eat meat, Dad? Why?”
“The light turned green, Vinnie. I’ll have to answer it after we go to the bathroom.”
“Can we buy barbecue for Dexter? He’s only part human. The other part is beagle.”
“Does it ever end?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“What, Mom? What do you want end?” asks Vinnie.
“Afraid not, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”
– Eva Burrows
Three in morning, Vinnie is stirring and so is Dexter. “Rupert, Rupert, wakeup buddy. I think I hear Santa’s sleigh.”
Vinnie climbs out of bed and heads toward the window. This move confuses Dexter. The window is the place where he barks at the trash truck, the recycle truck, and the mail truck. He knows he supposed to do this because he is a dog and all dogs do it. It is part of the human and dog treaty signed eons ago.
Vinnie gets to the window, peeks behind the shade and screams, “Mom. Dad, it snowed. I think I see Santa’s sleigh marks in the snow. I see his footprints, too. Are you awake, Mom? Dad, wake up! Let’s open presents.”
Vinnie bolts out of his bedroom, Dexter starts barking and chases Vinnie. Rupert silently goes along for the ride tucked securely under Vinnie’s arm. Vinnie slams on the brakes stopping inches from his mom, “That’s far enough, Vinnie. It’s only three o’clock. It’s much too early to open presents. Let’s go back to bed. You know our tradition. We get up and look in our stockings. We eat breakfast, then we get ready for church. After church, we’ll open all the presents. Gramma and Grampa will be here. They’re going to meet us at church and come home with us.”
“Mom, Mom, can I look. Please, please, please Mom can I look?” begs Vinnie.
“Okay, hold my hand and we’ll peek in to see if Santa came,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Mom, he came. He came. I saw his tracks in the snow. Mom, it snowed just for Santa. He ate the cookies and drank the milk. I know he came, Mom,” says Vinnie with all the excitement he usually reserves for the last day of school.
Vinnie holding Rupert tightly against his chest, his mom, and Dexter walk toward the living room. Vinnie’s mom has hold of Vinnie’s hand as she readies herself for Vinnie’s reaction. The glow of Christmas lights illuminate the living room.
Vinnie whispers to his mom, “Mom, what if Santa’s still in the living room? Will he be mad if he sees me? What if Dexter thinks Santa is a burglar and attacks him?”
Vinnie’s mom smiles, “I think Santa has already been here. Did you say you saw his sleigh tracks in the snow? Besides, the only way Dexter might attack Santa is if Santa is carrying a box of hamburgers.”
“You’re really smart, Mom. Anybody ever tell you that?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s Mom smiles at Vinnie, but doesn’t let of his hand. They step toward the entry of the living room.
“Wow! Wow! Wow! Owe! Mom, let me go. I want to see my presents. Please, Mom. Please. Please. Please.”
“No, Vinnie. Merry Christmas. It looks like Santa thinks you’ve been very good this year.”
“I really tried, Mom. I really tried my best,” says Vinnie feeling a gravitational pull toward the Christmas tree.
“Vinnie, you and Rupert are to go to bed. I want a promise you will not get up until I call you in the morning.”
“Mom, you and dad always sleep in on days you don’t work.”
“I promise, I will open your door at six. If you’re awake you can get up and take your sock down from the mantel. I meant to tell you, I put up an extra sock for you because the sock Gramma gave you is too small.”
“Oh, Mom. You’re the best Mom. You’re better than Joey’s mom and she’s really nice.”
At 7 a.m. Vinnie sits on the living room rug, the contents of his two socks spilled on the rug in front of him. Vinnie’s mom and dad sit on the sofa drinking coffee watching Vinnie.
“Bagels and cream cheese and peanut butter are on the table, Vinnie. Let’s eat so we’ll have time to get ready for Mass. We’ll meet Gramma and Gramps and come home together. Dad will put on his Santa hat and give out the presents. I think this is going to be the best Christmas ever,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad places his hands on Vinnie’s mom’s waist and kisses her. Vinnie interrupts their kiss, “That’s disgusting. You’re passing germs. You don’t want to be sick for Christmas.”
Vinnie’s mom glances toward Vinnie, “One day, when you’re older you will enjoy kissing your special girl.”
“It won’t be until I’m real old like you, right, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom looks into his dad’s eyes, “Do I look old, dear? Be honest.”
“Be honest, Dad. Don’t lie. Santa can hear everything you say. Dad, did you get Mom’s present from Home Depot? I warned you not to go there,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad beams, “I took your advice, Vinnie and I bought Mom’s gift online. I even have a gift receipt so she can exchange it. I hope Mom likes a leaf shredder.”
“You’re kidding, right, Dad?”
Santa didn’t give Vinnie everything he wanted, but Vinnie was happy with what he received. Vinnie’s Mom was happy she didn’t get a set of socket wrenches, but plans to exchange the eight quart Instant Pot tomorrow. Vinnie’s Dad was screaming with delight over his gift. Santa gave him two tickets for the opening game to baseball season for the Boston Red Sox. Dexter finished his gift of doggie treats in thirty seconds flat. And, Rupert now has friend, a smaller sized black bear. Vinnie hasn’t named him or her yet.
Vinnie wishes you all a very merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad.
Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
I want to love you without clutching, appreciate you without judging, join you without invading, invite you without demanding, leave you without guilt, criticize you without blaming, and help you without insulting. If I can have the same from you, then we can truly meet and enrich each other.
I Am Me
In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me
Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fantasies,
My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me – However I
Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
People and things outside of me – I own me, and
therefore I can engineer me – I am me and
I AM OKAY