MY FRIEND, ALICE, LOOKS LIKE who she is in her mid-50s – a vaguely glamorous California girl with that wave of blond hair, a Dutch dairyman’s daughter who promptly delivered a hot meal and a simple gift to us when each of our three sons was newborn.
During those days, she would saunter into our home and gently bat the stuffed animal mobile above the Pack-N-Play in the livingroom – whether the baby snuggled there or in my arms – which I view as the lingering whimsy of a once new mother passing by a crib.
But when she took a seat in church on Sunday for the first time in a long time, even a stranger would know the fight on her hands given the light grey cap on her head.
After the service, I hugged Alice carefully, kissed her on the cheek and told my fellow writer – the one that hashes over what makes people tick as much as I do – how it wowed me to see her up and about.
“Wow,” I said, dumbly.
A signature expression flitted across her face then, one both coy and calm, and she replied quietly with one word.
“Enough,” she said.
She had enough energy. Enough energy that morning, she said.
Yes, I still hear you, Alice.
As after so many conversations over 13 years of friendship and faith walking, I held her shared word and took it to heart back home.
Then, I spent the next four days unwrapping the gift of this one word and what it meant beyond the immediate, which led me to a curious place.
When the holidays begin on Thanksgiving, many of us feel so full as we stand up from our table perhaps flanked with kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and good friends.
I feel stuffed with stuffing and turkey and dozens of “thank yous” directed toward those present and so many absent.
Then, on Black Friday the fullness of Thanksgiving vanishes very nearly overnight as many of us either write or read wish lists and “to do” lists to consciously or subconsciously fill some compartment of our lives standing empty.
Look, I love candy – the colors, the textures, the flavors and even the fact that every piece comes packed with completely empty calories, as in nothing nutritionally valuable.
This food is just for fun, and that is certainly a part of the life I want to live.
So, I get why holiday bauble presents its own satisfactions – except that, unlike candy, shrewd marketers manufacture Christmas spirit with a price tag and the clear message to upgrade and upgrade some more for best results.
This brings me back to enough is enough.
This year, that does not mean I plan on boycotting the mall or boxing my cookie cutters.
It just means that, for the thousandth time, I can redirect this one life I lead to those simple treasures that give back and don’t break – to embracing gratitude when I find Andy, 5, holding his three-year-old brother Ray’s hand as they watch a movie about Oscar the lizard or when I see Alice out and about with a word to share.
Pam Mellskog can be reached at Mellskog@msn.com or 303-746-0942.