But what they can't adequately explain to me is: how would I have known that Christmas ought to be spent with the Old-Hams if I hadn't found that out at the thrift shop? How on earth would I have known what I needed?
Fortunately, I rarely listen to sensible advice, and last week while shopping all alone on a Wednesday evening, I found the Old Hams. There I was in the midst of strangers rifling through the VHS tapes, the Christian fiction novels, elderly sheet music and the ultimate temptress; That Stack of LP's.
I couldn't contain my mirth, and I pelted forth in bursts of merriment at the additional joy of seeing the album of my dreams marked down from $4.00 to $1.00! Where can YOU get a ham for a dollar anymore?!
I very nearly floated home on the windchill in eager anticipation of cradling him gently on my turntable.
The children would be so pleased.
The unity in footwear!
The matching dog/flooring choices!
And I really wanted to be able to google: "What ever happened to the girl in the pink who clearly didn't want to be born an Oldham; whose parents insisted she not run away before the family picture, and who flatly refused to wear the requisite grey and white ruffle wear?"
But it was harder to accomplish than what you might think.
I didn't need Google to tell me that her big sister didn't need an attitude adjustment. It was abundantly clear that she and her dad shared a lot of common interests and were pretty close.
I was also able to deduce that her mom was totally on program. She loved pretty much everything about her life- her mantel, the kettle that rested there, her blue fireplace, the perfectly tapered and lit candlesticks, the elaborately wrapped gifts, her hair, her boots, her broach, her thighs, her glasses. She loved her dog, her carpet, her daughters snacking choices (ham) and her husband's multi talents.
The other sister still hadn't really found herself. That came hours after the release of the LP, when she gazed with pride at her family, her place in it, and the dog that had hopefully, partially concealed her identity.
What happened then was a brief but intense period of wayward rebellion, after which she resumed her rightful place at the family table. Legend has it that she learned to play the triangle AND the tambourine, which greatly endeared her to the entire genealogy of the OldHams.
Now, try and explain to me how I might have surmised all of that if I hadn't gone to the thrift shop last week. If I had saved that dollar and put it towards my mortgage, my life would not be anywhere nearly as enriched as it is today.
Nor would yours.
Tonight, I'll be on the lookout for some: really tight go go boots, some mantel accessories, matching blazer outfits in "L" and "XL", gold tinsel, and a pinecone wreath. I just hadn't known until recently how badly I needed all those things.