Letter: Some things you never forget

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Some things you never forget…

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived deep in the country. Now, “deep in the country,” back when this story took place is no longer deep in the country today, although there are those who might still think any home without another house in sight is just that: deep in the country.

But to the story…

This boy lived a life not a great deal different from the kind of life Robert Frost described in his poetry. He could identify with poems like, “Stopping by Woods,” wherein Frost says, “Whose woods these are, I think I know.”

Climbing birch trees (and just about any other tree in sight) was familiar to him, including having ridden them down at times, like Frost’s subject in, “Birches.”

Life, to him, was good. His days were filled with adventures, like helping his grandfather candle eggs (“What is that I’m supposed to be looking for again, Gramps?”), playing games with his older brothers (“Come on! Where are you guys? It’s someone else’s turn to be it.”) and, generally, amusing himself by using his imagination and hanging out with the family dog (“Come on, Teddy. We’ll go down to the brook and see if we can find some frogs or turtles. Maybe both!”)

Days did seem longer when he was a kid. Once breakfast was gobbled down, the day seemed to last forever. A typical day included everything from playing cowboys and Indians (Does anyone play that anymore outside?), to helping mom hang out clothes, to reading a book or magazine curled up in the comfy living room chair.

Then, there were those moments of lying on the side of the hill in the grass and just watching the clouds go by. Sometimes, he would just take a walk through the woods and see what he could find, maybe investigate the cliffs once more out in back and see if anything had been around. Or play in the brook, watching to see what might suddenly turn up, like that crayfish who lives under the rock.

Eventually, he grew up, a little at a time (although, looking back, it seemed like it flew by.) He learned to ride a bike, learned to drive a car, had dates with girls (“I wonder what ever happened to ________?”), graduated from high school, then college, joined the National Guard, got a job, got married and had children, one of whom now has children of his own (“I’m a grandfather??? But, I’m too young to be a grandfather!”)

Like pretty much every kid that grew up back then, he loved Christmas. He remembered all the Christmases he had ever had. The ones when he got big presents (“The bike is for me!!??”) and the ones when he got small presents (“The bike isn’t for me??”). The ones he remembered the most, however, were the ones when he found the best presents for other people, including his mother and brothers (“Yep, Mom. I made THAT myself! Pretty good, huh?” “Sammy, that fits you great! Trust me. You look great in that!”).

But even that lost its appeal after awhile. After all, most of the people he knew had everything they needed and more. They had things like iPods and stereos, high definition TVs, nice clothes, pretty much nice everything.

The only problem is that most of them didn’t even appreciate what they had. It wasn’t because they were selfish or greedy so much. It was more a case of just living in a society in which people feel like they are missing something if they don’t have the latest, the greatest, or the fanciest. People had been brainwashed into believing they had to buy, buy, buy.

Companies and corporations hired fancy ad agencies to push, push, push their products onto the public. People began to believe that if they didn’t get a pile of new stuff for Christmas, well, the potential giver just didn’t care or love them or even like them.

Love, the ads said, was based on buying THIS product, (“Right here – which is the best product money can buy! Yessiree, and it is going fast, my friends.”

“Fortunately for you, the consumer, our stores will be open 24 hours starting next week! You can shop, shop, shop at our stores. You can buy, buy, buy. You can spend, spend, spend AND for a limited time only, you can get that magic credit card that will allow you to spend beyond your means like a shopper gone crazy!

You CAN make your loved ones happy this Christmas! YES, YOU CAN! You can put yourself so far into debt you will wonder what kind of drugs you were taking when you did it. Simply sign up for this credit card at any one of our many locations, and you can go stark raving mad and not have to pay for a thing until next summer.)” – when the reality of what you have done begins to hit home, finally: You have spent your entire life savings on floogle floppies which are now in garbage cans all over the state.

It is not too late, folks. It’s okay to buy a few things, really, but try to avoid getting sucked in. Want to really feel good? Do what Scrooge did: take some money you can afford, buy some presents for loved ones. Even better, think of those less fortunate and stop by the food pantry in your town with either some canned goods or a simple donation. They will appreciate anything and everything.

In many cases they can also put some of those toys your kids don’t play with anymore to good use. Donate some time. Soup kitchen or what have you. Sponsor a family for Christmas! You get to buy gifts for a family who can’t afford to buy them.

Make yourself feel good, really good. It’s not too late, as Scrooge discovered. Maybe you just need to rediscover that person inside you again you know, the little kid that grew up?

My best Christmas ever? The time my mother had us put some toys and sweaters and what have you into a bag, which she dropped off at night at the door of a poor family who lived in town.

We didn’t have much, but they had even less.

The irony is that we are the ones who got the best gift of all: that good feeling inside.

Some things you never forget.

Dick Martin

Dick Martin is a Glocester resident and contributor for NRI NOW.

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