Welcome to the present

Thanksgiving was over and the day the nation was waiting for was finally here. Turkey sandwiches, left over pie, football, parade and at the top of the list: stores that open at 5 a.m.

Unfortunately I missed it all. All I wanted to do was sleep. However my kith and kin, who are younger than I and more adventuresome than I, were scarfed and hatted and ready to go off in the rain to see the parade. They phoned three times to see if I'd changed my mind and each time I assured them that I wasn't feeling neglected and that they should just forget about me and have a jolly wet time.

After I hung up the phone I congratulated myself for sticking to my refusal and yet I felt so sad. I had said no, whereas not too many years ago I would have bundled up and joined them. This time I turned over and went back to sleep.

As we grow older, perhaps we do grow wiser and oh, did I welcome that wisdom Friday morning.

A bit later I managed to pull myself out of bed to watch most of the parade and look for my loved ones and I do believe I found them at the curb near Abercrombie & Fitch.

The youngest spectator was invisible beneath a tent, which covered the stroller. John was sitting on the curb in case candy was tossed his way and Julia, turning blue before my eyes, was seeking warmth next to the wall.

The adults, swathed in scarves and hats pulled over their ears grouped together assuring each other that there was no place else they'd prefer to be than standing there in the freezing rain watching the bands go by.

I did feel a sadness as I watched them instead of being with them as I usually was. I do love to be with them and I do love a parade, almost any parade. but I had finally realized that it was OK to enjoy those parades on television on a cold and blustery day cuddled in my favorite chair and sipping a cup of coffee as the bands went by.

Much to my surprise I had reached the age when I could happily live with memories of such occasions but I could also make creature comforts a top priority. It's taken me a while to recognize that the present has a lot going for it.

I think that living in the present is one of the more difficult things there is to learn as the golden years crowd in on us. Some scene, some sound - the present disappears and we're back in the good old days.. It's hard to come back to the present when the present feels like a dirty trick that was played on you bit by bit.

You can't run as fast or as far, you can't hike quite as far, climb quite as high and contentedly sit on the beach instead of swimming a few laps. Everyone around you is whispering and you realize that your hearing may not be as acute as it once was.

You're willing to pass up Letterman for an extra hour of sleep. You have trouble reading freeway signs You are appalled at the way other drivers drive. And one day you wake up and find that you have to face the fact that you are getting old.

At first you're overwhelmed by this knowledge. When did that happen? How did that happen? You're incensed.

Then you start getting in to shows at reduced rates, people start holding doors for you and giving you their seat on the bus.

You realize you can do as you please for the first time in your life and you welcome the present with wide open arms.

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