Monday, November 24, 2008

Bittersweets.

Do you watch Noggin? If you have cable and have children under five years old, I'm sure you do. The catchphrase for the channel is, "It's like preschool on TV!" which is a bit of a stretch but if it means I can go to the bathroom in peace, I'll buy into it. Basically it runs shows like Blues' Clues, Dora, Diego, Wonderpets, etc. twenty-four hours a day, which is great when you need a minute to think and fantastic when you have a sick kid who is up at 2am and you will happily blow your brains out if you have to watch the "Diego Saves Christmas" DVD for the 663,873,988th time.
Anyway, Noggin is hosted by two fairly non-annoying cartoon characters, Moose A. Moose and his best friend Zee, who is a bird, and they sing little songs, and play memory games and do other fun things to kill the time between shows. (Noggin is commercial free and the half hour shows run about 22 minutes, so there's a gap that needs to be filled.) They have cute little seasonal-themed songs, including "I Don't Like Candy Corn" during Halloween. The one they are singing now is for Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite songs they sing all year but I have to admit: it makes me want to cry every time I hear it.

The lyrics of the chorus are sweet and simple:
Everyone's together
Everyone is happy
We're thankful that we've got so much to share.

... and the corresponding visual is of people sitting around a Thanksgiving table; a huge turkey dominates the middle of the scene, and everyone has these big goofy grins on their faces. Everything is brown and burnt orange and subdued yellow and it's just all too much for me... because while I am very much looking forward to Thanksgiving, I just feel so bad for those for whom Thanksgiving is a nightmare: people from freshly-broken homes, families in which someone has passed away; homes filled with anger or violence; families that experience hunger in body or spirit. Because for them everyone is not together and everyone is not happy. Something about the child-like innocence of the song and it's gaping vulnerable optimism brings this all up for me each time I hear it. Which is alot, because Noggin is on for several hours a day in my house, happily humming along as the background noise to our lives.
So while I love the song because we are all together in our house and we actually are all happy and have lots to share, my heart breaks for those who don't.
It is another example of realizing you are living in your own utopia.
Savor every minute.

In other news, our 90 year old next door neighbor died alone in his house last week. Fell asleep in his bed and that was that. His daughter had gotten his admittance letter from the nursing home they applied to on the day he was found. He really, really wanted to stay in his own house. That's called beating the system.
John was a great guy; we used to call him the Mayor of our street because he would cruise up and down the street driving about 5 miles per hour and craning his neck to see what everyone was doing, and he would beep his horn and wave. If we did a home improvement project, he loved asking us, "If you don't mind me asking, how much did that set you back?" and we didn't ever really mind telling him. When his first great granddaughter was born a few months before Michaela, I was so happy for him and his wife and asked what the baby's name was. "Uh... Hannah Grace. Or Grace Hannah. Can't remember which. You'll have to ask my wife."
He was adorable and kind and gruff and always had a sparkle in his eye.
The street won't be the same without him.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for Noggin! It's either THAT or QVC at 2 am and NO ONE needs more sheets/bedding for that holiday tour of the home! Happy Thanksgiving to our wonderful children and grandchildren-we are, indeed, thankful for you all (AND, of course, our Michigan children and grandchild). Love, Gammie and Pop Pop

Mark, Carrie, and Luke Winterhoff said...

This was a great post, friend. I kept finding myself re-reading it for the sentiment about Thanksgiving and great way that you memorialized neighbor John. Thanks for sharing such wonderful, articulate thoughts with us, your dedicated and loyal readers. We are thankful for you!!