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MARTHA SEZ: Tick-tock, we’re all waiting for 2018

December 29, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Happy Limbo week! I am speaking of that interval between Christmas and New Year's Day, the week that is neither one thing not the other.

After Christmas is finally over and there is nothing to do but gather up the wrapping paper, there is this hiatus, this gap.

About the wrapping paper: Most people just throw it away. When I was growing up, we had a fireplace in the living room, and on Christmas morning as we unwrapped our gifts we threw paper into the flames and watched it burn.

"Don't throw in too much paper at once or it will flare up and go up the chimney and set the roof on fire!" a grown-up would invariably instruct. Probably my grandmother Rose, who was concerned with fire. Rose and my grandfather, Fred Aldrich, lived in our house with my parents, my brothers and sister and me, and whatever pets we happened to have at the time.

We didn't save wrapping paper. I believe that my parents felt that saving such trifles was somehow miserly or mean. They did not intend to be branded by the stigmata of the Great Depression all of their lives. Throw it away! They said.

Meanwhile, just up 15 Mile Road, Grandma Allen was doubtless smoothing out and folding the wrapping paper from Christmas Eve gift-giving before carefully laying it away for the following year. Grandma was the one in our family who had the most money, and she certainly could afford as much wrapping paper as she could ever use, but she was provident, prudent, even a little scrimpy.

Right now, as I type this on the day after Christmas, it is still 2017, but it doesn't seem to be. People feel as if the year 2017 is all used up, and that we are simply waiting for 2018, at which time we will be much better people.

Yes, it is time to make those yearly resolutions, very likely the same resolutions as we were all making a year ago, but we don't have to follow them right now, because we are in this gap period. I know, I know, we resolved last December to make these improvements, but then we reneged on them. Now we are starting all over again, and so they don't count. Not until 2018, in about a week.

I heard somewhere that whatever you are doing on New Year's Eve-whatever habits or proclivities you are indulging-that is what you will most likely be doing in the year to follow, despite what you may resolve.

Yesterday, on Christmas, I had the unexpected pleasure of receiving a phone call from Geoffrey Emery, a childhood friend. Geoffrey was the youngest of the eight children who lived on Waterfall Lane on the banks of Quarton Lake, the old mill pond, in Birmingham, Michigan, in our youth. I was the second oldest, outranked only by my brother Bill, so Geoffrey seemed very young indeed to me. Because he was the youngest child on the lane, he was ipso facto the youngest person on the lane. This was back in the days when children and dogs were allowed to roam randomly through backyards and neighborhoods, drifting in and out of houses, attracting little notice.

I was surprised yesterday to hear Geoffrey's take on our situation in Waterfall Lane growing up.

"Rose and Fred," he told me, "were the only adults in our two families. Rose and Fred took care of things."

My grandparents, Rose and Granddad Fred, were always there, in the background, never opposing or trying to override my parents; still, there was much in what Geoffrey said.

"But, Geoff," I pointed out, "Our parents were adults! They drank martinis."

"They drank lots of martinis, trying to make us think they were adults," Geoffrey countered, "but drinking martinis doesn't prove anything.

"That's the reason Fred didn't talk a lot," he continued. "Fred had to keep his eye on things. There was a lot to keep his eye on."

I wanted to learn more from Geoffrey's viewpoint, but he had to go, and he hasn't called back.

Meanwhile, my sister and I didn't get each other's gifts in the mail and had to track them down today through the post office.

I mailed our brother Bill's present on a Monday and he got it on Wednesday, I told her.

"The Universe loves Bill," Sissy said.

There is so much to rethink. I need to talk with Geoffrey.

Have a good week.



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