The Mirror Ball

Posted by Danny

On Friday we headed to the mountains to cut a fresh Frazier Fir Christmas tree, an annual Tanner family tradition.  Last year Jesse went with us and the two mountain men running the tree farm clearly thought we were a gay couple.  I suppose that’s understandable, although he’s much too young for me.  This year it was the girls, my in-laws and me.

We made reservations in a small motel near Elkin, NC.  When we opened the door to our room, it sort of felt like the set of a seedy 1960’s movie; the brown paneling identical to our family basement on Berkshire Road where we played spin the bottle as kids – a game I’m sure my older brother introduced to the neighborhood gang.  It certainly wasn’t me.

Stephanie immediately headed to the bathroom and within seconds an outlandish screech erupted from her gut, “Ewwww!!!  A bug daddy!  It’s enormous.”

“I swear.  Where is he?”

“In the tub!  Dad, get him.”

Why am I always the default exterminator? 

As I headed toward the speckled blue tiled floor, Michelle smartly informed me that she wasn’t taking a shower until we got back home.

“I don’t see him Steph.”

“He’s in the tub!”

I was ready for a fight, pulling my boot off to squash him…but he was already dead.  “Stephanie, I can’t believe you screamed like that, he’s not even alive.”

Is this worth a deafening scream?

After bug fest, I returned to the room.  The television was on top of the dresser and had a brown wooden frame.  There was actually a round dial to control the volume.  Michelle asked, “Is that a microwave?” 

Old TV or motel microwave?

“No honey.  That is a TV similar to the one I had as a child.”  She looked troubled. 

When you turned the channel, the current picture sort of rolled up the screen while the next channel bounced into place underneath – kind of like a slot machine.  I was surprised not to find Greg and Marsha Brady on channel 5; after all, it was Friday night at 8 pm.

There was a rusty heater that didn’t work, built into the bathroom wall.  “Is that an ash tray dad?”

“No.  But we had those too when I was a kid.”

The curtains were held together with a hair clip.  I told the girls they were welcome to use it to get gussied up for our tree expedition on Saturday; none took me up on the offer.

For me, the peak of the evening came at dinner.  We ate at the restaurant in the front parking lot of the motel and the food was actually pretty good.  There were three families dining and one left shortly after we arrived.  Near the dance floor in the corner, a weathered fifty year old man belted out Clapton and Dylan while strumming his acoustic guitar.  His tip jar eager for some action.

I remembered my occasional apprehension about dancing when Lisa was alive – I felt so conspicuous on a barren dance floor.  When she died and I realized I  could no longer hold her to music, I promised I would never pass up that opportunity again. 

“Stephanie, you want to two-step?” I asked.

“I don’t think I know how.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

So Nana and Pops, the girls and I took advantage of the mirror ball.  And when we finished, the other couple in the restaurant applauded.  And I think Lisa did too.

Sunday Post 45: Finding Thanksgiving

Posted by Danny

Thanksgiving – sometimes it’s hard to see.

There are a couple of times throughout the year that I sort of conduct an informal assessment of my life. I always go running on my birthday. In part to prove that I still can; in part to think. I do the same sort of thinking at Thanksgiving.

This year, on my drive to my parent’s house, I began mulling over all that I had – and my mind began to wander. I started thinking about others – not something I do often enough.

I thought of folks who are in fierce battles with cancer right now. There are others who have lost spouses and even their children. I think about some of the tough living conditions of children who attend some of our Y programs. And I know of so many who just seem lonely.

I, on the other hand, in many regards, have it all.

I just spent 20 minutes putting Michelle to bed. It’s seldom a quick process. I have to scratch each of her limbs. We say a prayer and talk about the people we pray for. Sometimes we talk in languages we make up – and laugh at what we think the other might be saying. And that same special time is repeated with Stephanie and DJ – almost every night. Talk about a blessing.

I’ve got Jesse and my best bud Brad – these are really good dudes to have in your corner.

I have parents and in-laws that I love and get along with – not everyone can claim that. The girls and I just spent the night in the mountains with Lisa’s parents cutting down our Christmas tree, a long-standing family tradition.

And, I love the people I work with on a daily basis.

It’s difficult to mope; it takes a great deal of self centeredness not to see the good in all that I have.

Maybe a fresh heaping helping of perspective is what we all need this season – changing the focus from what we don’t have to all we do have.

When we make that switch, it’s pretty easy to see our blessings. I hope you did this past week.

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