Birney Imes: Snow on a Christmas morn

December 26, 2010 12:41:00 AM

Birney Imes - [email protected]


As I write this on Christmas morning, the snow is quickly disappearing. In the next room someone is playing the soundtrack from "Love Actually," the movie that for us has become a family Christmas tradition. For comfort on this cold, wet morning, I have a cup of hot tea and an old pair of fur-lined slippers on. Across the way, the Catholics, are leaving mass, treading through the slush to their cars. 


Earlier, walking home in the snow after Christmas with the grands, I remembered snowy days as a kid. We ached for a white Christmas. When it snowed in those days, the world shut down and our house with its long, sloping front lawn seemed to be the center of the universe. 


Boys with last names Waters, Jolly, Richardson and Smith showed up with pieces of refrigerator boxes and plastic sleds. Flexible Fliers, with their metal runners and wood slats on top, were rare. We would pile on top of one another and, dodging trees, go until we hit the pile of leaves under the privet hedge at the bottom of the hill. Eventually, the cold and wetness drove us inside to a fire and hot chocolate. 


There is something quietly poignant about Christmas eve night. Maybe it stems from childhood memories. Maybe it''s because much of the world, as we know it, is gathering up for a day of food and family. Commerce comes to a halt. The skies that night seem to hold added mystery. 


If you were in the Prairie as I was Friday at the end of the day, I don''t need to tell you how beautiful the sunset was. We don''t get that in town ... the full effect of sunsets and sunrises. You might have seen the red moon rising or, a bit later, a big moon as it rose over Main Street. 


On Christmas eve around 5 p.m., half of Macon seemed to be in Tem''s Grocery. One of the children and I had been working outside most of the day and stopped in hopes of finding tangerines to hold us over until dinner. The cashiers were all wearing red T-shirts, some had on reindeer antlers. People were everywhere, standing in groups talking; the scene seemed as much as a church social as grocery shopping. 


We found our tangerines and wandered the aisles -- neither of us in a hurry to leave -- listening to snippets of conversations, absorbing the spirit of the night. 


Before heading home we cruised downtown Macon. Main Street was lovely with its Christmas lights, decorated shop windows and strangely empty streets. We were small figures moving through a Christmas card. 


Just now I got the sad news of Kay Brewer''s death in an e-mail from her son, Brett. I never had Kay as a speech teacher at Lee High, but from all I''ve heard about her over the years, I wish I had. Public speaking is a skill we are all called upon to use in life, and it''s one I''ve never mastered. According to wife, Beth, Kay was one of those rare teachers who made her students excited about learning. 


"She loved being there and made us as students love being there," Beth, said. 


The other day, to pass time during a long drive for Christmas with family in another town, I asked the kids, if they could magically acquire a talent or knowledge what would it be. That''s a stupid question, I thought to myself as I said it. You would miss the joy of learning the thing itself, of acquiring the skill. 


Something to resolve for the new year: to learn something new, to push in a new direction, to listen better and keep an open mind. Sometimes opportunities to learn and grow are forced upon us by circumstances, other times they suggest themselves in subtle ways, as ephemeral as a butterfly landing on a shirt sleeve. 


Like this morning''s snow, another year has come and gone. We have one final week to tend to the business of 2010. And then we begin a new chapter.

Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.