Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Art of Wishing Carefully

My father is dead a very long time.  If one wanted to use "A Christmas Carol" as one's frame of reference, this past May marked the "Fifth Marley" anniversary of his death.   

Not surprisingly, given that I was a couple of months past my fourteenth birthday when he died, WPK, Sr. and I had little relationship at all at the time of his death.  We spent the final eight or nine months of our shared time here circling one another like two dogs in a cage, a direct result of an incident that occurred the September before he died.  He did something to me that fourteen-year-old me considered to be unforgivable, which was of course something for which he never intended to seek my forgiveness. He never apologized.  I never forgave him.  And then, he died.  I am more than a little embarrassed to admit that at least a small part of me contemplated whether he did so to spite me - and never offer me the apology to which I felt entitled.  Sue me for such a thought.  I was fourteen and I was seriously pissed off.      

Irrespective of the evisceration of our relationship during what proved to be the final year of his life, we spent a sufficient amount of time together that I picked up more than a few things from him along the way.  In addition to my passion for the New York Rangers, I also inherited his love of "It's A Wonderful Life".  I cannot recall how old I was the first time I watched it with him but I recall him, at movie's end, telling me that Frank Capra's film taught an important message, which Dad informed me was, "Be careful for what you wish."  

For better or worse, being WPK, Sr.'s son has helped shape the prism through which I view the world and its inhabitants for the better part of fifty years.  The further removed I get from the relatively-brief time that we shared, the better understanding I acquire of certain things that he did and that he said.  

None better, perhaps, than what he meant about the importance of wishing carefully.  As a child, both when I still believed in Santa, and afterwards, when I knew that Dad was the overweight, white-haired gent responsible for delivering my Christmas bounty, my annual Christmas list was a massive undertaking.  Jill used to handle the prioritizing of requests for me.  There was at least one year when my list was more than fifteen pages, ranging from "Must Have" to "Could Probably Live Without, But Why Risk It".  And truth be told, other than my parent's refusal to buy me the Army Men set that was advertised on the back cover of every comic book I ever read as a child, I made out more than OK.  

I have not been a child for a long time and, long ago, to cite the great James McMurty, I put away childish things.  I no longer have an extended list of wishes, Christmas or otherwise.  Quantity is not important.  It matters not.  It never has.  It shall never be a substitute for quality.  Breadth shall never be a substitute for depth.

Choose wisely.  And, today, if fortune has smiled upon you and has permitted you to spend the day in the company of at least one of the people who you love most of all in the world and who, too, loves you most of all, then all that you need is already within your grasp. 

Squander it not. Never forget that while he had the most money, Henry Potter was not the richest man in town. 

Merry Christmas...



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