Merry Christmas Gonzales County!
On behalf of the staff at the Gonzales Inquirer — office manager Sanya Simmons, Managing Editor Jose Torres, reporter Eric McCowan, Account Executive Susie Bernd and drivers Herbie Irle and Tony Ramirez — I would personally like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone of you the Merriest of Christmas’ and the Happiest of New Years!
I can’t believe how fast the 2018 year blew by. With Christmas just five days away, I am scrambling to catch up with all my Christmas shopping and revel in the Christmas spirit. Last year, I spent Christmas at Emily’s Cottage at the Boothe House all alone, as I was on call to cover Christmas festivities in Gonzales for the paper while all the employees could be with their families. I had just started working here and did not have enough time to make it back to the Midwest to celebrate Christmas with some of my children and sisters. It was really sad.
This year, however, will be different — and what a blessing it will be. All four of my children will be back in Michigan this year (they split every other year with their spouses’ family), with one returning from Richmond, Va.; one from Minneapolis, Minn.; and one from Arlington, Va. All five grandbabies will be together for the first time as well.
In addition, my three sisters and their entire families are all gathering for Christmas from all points of the globe. On Sunday, Dec. 23, the entire Fitzwater clan will descend on Grandville, Mich. for a day of fun, storytelling, good food, plenty of laughter and reminiscing, and a lot of swimming with the grandkids where we are all meeting.
I am so excited to have the entire family together again. The older we get, and the older our children get, the harder it is to fit the right day and time into everyone’s schedule and budget. Unless it’s a wedding or a funeral, this won’t happen again for at least two more years.
As I get older, I appreciate these times more and more. When I was younger, I enjoyed listening to the stories of my sisters or my children teasing each other and having a good time together. I have to confess sometimes I instigated matters just to get the right protagonists going at each other in a fun-loving way.
However, as the kids got older, they got wiser. They found a new foil to pick on: me! How this unholy action unfolded I do not know; all I do know is that now when everyone gets together the stories they all laugh about are the ones involving me and some of the idiotic things I did as a younger man.
My oldest boy Josh invariably brings up the story of the time our family was in Yellowstone National Park. We were having a picnic alongside a babbling brook when I decided to wade into the rushing waters to get on some big boulders where I could take a more scenic picture. I was carrying a camera, along with a tuna fish sandwich which I intended to consume once I got out into the middle of the river. That was my intention.
As I was gingerly wading through the river, I slipped and went under the raging torrent headed for a precipitous waterfall downstream. My children looked on in horror, then were aghast when the only thing they saw sticking out of the frothing foam of the water was my arm and a tuna fish sandwich. It was more important to keep the bread dry then saving myself from going over the waterfall.
Compounding the embarrassment, my son then goes on to say that after the near drowning and picnic were over, when we got back to the van to leave, I took off my wet sneakers and hung them around the rear-view mirror to help dry them out.
My children were mortified. At their age at that time, it was not cool to be seen driving down the highway with wet, smelly sneakers dangling off the rearview mirror of the car. My daughter always chimes in with, “Yeah Dad, it was not only embarrassing, but your shoes stunk.” Everyone laughs, including me, but I am the only one with red-faced embarrassment.
My sisters love to tell the story of when I was in 9th grade hanging out with some of my baseball colleagues. One of my buddies had a brother who could buy wine, and he bought all the 15-year-olds bottles of Boones Farm Wild Mountain wine. At 2 a.m. in the morning, no one could figure out why six 15-year-olds were chased off the top of the Methodist Church by a preacher chasing them with a broom. Everyone laughs — but me — and my face gets a littler redder.
Now that I am older, I realize it is these times and these stories that are worth living for and loving for. These are the moments of our lives, and we need to cherish them and relish them all the days of our lives. We need to seek these tender mercies out, savor them, and hold them dear to our heart.
So, my personal wish is that each and every one of you have lots of these moments over the holidays. Enjoy your friends and families and tell each other you love each other. Hug each other. Laugh until your stomach hurts.
And cherish the moments of your lives.