In Praise of the Olds

Putting aside the fact that, back in my day, “the Olds” referred to a car owned by someone on the brighter side of the tracks - I recognize that this term now refers to the generations beyond the one currently in fashion.  I realize that while I do not consider myself old; I do remember Watergate, the Vietnam War, the moon landing, and the deaths of all three Kennedy brothers.  And so I write to praise them, me, this holiday for a simple reason:  The Olds enjoy life more than you do. Our holiday toasts often feature a few seconds of silence.  We aren’t grasping for words, we are connecting to memories that predate you.  We mist up easily for the same reason.  We smile at soiled toddlers because we remember the stress when we were first confronted with tiny people - you.  (Also, we are no longer responsible to remove said soil. Our joy in reminding you of this is unceasing.)

I found myself at a large sing-along last week in a small town North of Boston.  A dear friend has hosted these gatherings for over 15 years, such that now their 18th century home bursts each holiday season with guitars, pianos, a harp and violin, and nearly one hundred voices.  I was privileged this year to be holding one of those guitars, and was therefore provided a front-row seat to enjoy these many souls.  Their ages ranged from six to eighty.  The young teens sprawled like puppies for a third of the room, while the adults stood towards the back, nearer to the wine selection located back in the kitchen area.  The smiles were shared: for one evening there was no toddler whine, no teen angst, no mid-life crises, no fears of mortality, no tears of sadness.  There was only laughter, music, warmth, and love.

While all had a good time, the Olds had a better time.  Only looking back through years can one appreciate the joy of connection.  In looking across the room, I saw myself at each age - from the shy child, to the teens who only gain confidence in groups, to the later awkward attempts at self-expression, to the college students, to the young fathers, to the truly confident Lions at the peak of their game, to the Olds.  We all wonder what is next, but for the Olds that question has been answered many times.  For this one magical evening, there were no questions of what is next - there was a sharing of magic, song, and later, dance.  The season features moments like this.  When all ages are joined in the same laughter, when a stranger wandering into the home would feel right at home.  Only the Olds appreciate how rare and wonderful such evenings are.

Here’s to the holiday. Here’s to the child on Christmas morning, the young teens exiled to the kid’s table, the older teens laughing too loudly at play, the Lions reveling in their ability to sustain a home.  But more than all, here is to the Olds.  Who have lived each phase, and only now fully understand we are all One.