Not frightful at all…
There are weeks that kick you in the gut and we have had them, over and over again, this fall. Being part of the family of man, we have felt the tragedies from Paris to Colorado Springs to San Bernardino. Watched the stories, shared the emotions of shock and sadness and disbelief. And we become world weary. Lifting spirits feels like a platitude to complete with hollow hands.
And locally, the chatter with end of the year governmental meetings and hearings, feels filled with venomous vitriol, neighbor to neighbor, with a dose of cranky politician thrown in. There are building height issues here and dogs who are small running at large there, and grumblings about too many cars and too few people in them.
The volume increases along with the angst. And then on a Saturday morning the sirens start and run for minutes in what sounds like dozens of police cars racing to a crisis. And for longtime residents we rub our eyes and smile at the sirens and know they are racing not toward a crisis or tragedy, but for a few hours, away from one. Dozens and dozens and dozens of children are riding in those cars alongside officers and heading out to the junction to do a little Christmas shopping. It a decades old tradition here, the first Saturday in December and it is a reminder there is good.
It isn’t about the gifts, really. In fact, most of the children take a portion of the money they are given and use it to buy small gifts for their family members. It is about the breakfast before where they all gather and sit with uniformed officers and see them as humans (who like bacon, too) who are there to listen to them. And later walk the aisles of the mega store and shop with them. The kids and the cops look forward to the event each year. And we sometimes forget to thank them (and those who quietly fund this event) for their kindness. For a few hours the world looks less scary and better still, it looks kind.
Later this same week, the local Rotary clubs combine efforts and throw a holiday party for hundreds of underserved children. There are gifts, sure, but there are games and treats and a cake walk and all kinds of noise and excitement. The Rotarians have selected nameless children by ages and sometimes gender and purchased small toys to make the holidays in our community a little brighter. It is a quiet event in terms of the general populace knowing about it, but it is much anticipated by hundreds of young people.
And then, after weeks of grey skies and the last of the leaves forced off the trees and brown dirt outside the door it changes. And in the span of less than hour, we are suddenly covered in white. "Snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes…" With a sweep of sweet Mother Nature’s deft hand, the holiday icing is evenly layered on cars and rooftops and driveways and mountain sides. The colored lights that looked fine hours before, now twinkle under the snowcaps. And the town looks like a snow globe upended for hours.
The snow this week was soft and slow with big, fat, lazy flakes that took time to find a place to land. They came on a weeknight with multiple holiday celebrations underway and the excitement and joy was evenly distributed. Inside an old brick building on Main Street, a hip new restaurant was opening and the place was hopping with politicians and actors and a full measure of do-gooders. It was an unveiling as sweet as Tupelo honey-the parting gift the guests received upon exiting.
And even though it was snowing on the street it was still conversational. Couples were hugging as they walked up the street heading home. And I was reminded of something my friend, Mary, told me years ago when she was in the middle of a multi-year remodel project on her home (which paralleled a remodel on her married life). I had asked her midway through the process, when it seemed things were humming along, "how is all going?" Which sounded, I thought, both benign and innocent enough. And she chose her words carefully. "I realize there will never be a time it will all be finished. There will always be something else to fix or tinker with, or want to make better. But what I have learned, is there are just moments. Moments when it all seems just right. And you have to capture those. Because all we have are the moments."
This week I understand Mary’s words intimately. Yes, the world is dark with evil people performing evil deeds. In town, there are mostly grumpy people doing dumb things ( we rarely rise to the level of evil). And there are things broken everywhere that need fixing and remodeling, like traffic patterns and school class sizes and where dogs can poop and run free. But I want to honor Mary’s words and hang them like a shiny ball on the tree and think that this week was one of those moments where we treated each other with kindness and felt joy, and Mother Nature threw in the fat flakes for good measure. I’m going to be grateful for the pause this Sunday in the Park.
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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In the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, PJ Falten has been thinking about the “fallen heroes who gave their lives so that something like last Wednesday could never happen on sacred ground. … What would they have thought?”