The absolutely funniest, most truthful Christmas card I’ve ever seen was sent to a friend of mine by her daughter. It was one of those photos of the entire family jumping up in the air and the caption was: “I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re all perfectly fine.”
For a while there I wasn’t fine. Several countries are determined to wipe each other off the face of the earth, our politicians are either having nervous breakdowns or considering the pistols at dawn and breakfast for one approach, and the daily updates concerning global warming seem to make all our fears irrelevant. It’s enough to make one reluctant to get out of bed in the mornings.
When the going gets tough, the tough retreat to the beach and after a week spent at funky, off-season Tybee Island, a lovely spot off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, I can now truthfully say I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re all just fine. Peace, sun, ocean waves and a determined news blackout reminded me that the sun rises, the moon glows and children laugh. The beach afforded time and chance encounters with what I think of as the world’s “real” people, those who are just living the best way they know how, and are still managing to see the humor that is life.
One of our real people encounters happened when we were returning home. Our beach bikes stowed in the back of the truck; we stopped in a small town looking for a clean convenience room. Standing at the front of the store waiting for husband Dan, the woman at the checkout counter said to me, “I see you’ve been on my back porch stealing my yellow bicycle.” I said, “Well, nobody was there to stop us.” We shared a laugh and had a comfortable discussion about the South, a place where one can speak to a stranger.
At a friend’s daughter’s wedding, the reception area was taken over by a group of energetic twenty-somethings. Some of us formed a corral around the bride’s frail, slightly confused grandmother. When I walked the grandmother across the floor to speak to her niece, she said to me, “I don’t know what kind of church this is. It’s very loud. I think they must be Baptist!” Do not become offended Baptists, because later she said the same thing to my husband but this time it was the Methodists who were so loud.
During a Death Valley visit, I had an interesting conversation with a woman of the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Indian tribe. This tribe often goes unnoticed. The woman commented on this and then added, “My tribe hasn’t gone anywhere. We are still here. We have been here for hundreds of years, and we will be here for hundreds of years more.” It was a fine point to make.
Wars rage and politicians are politicians, but we are all still here. A news blackout is helpful to restore perspective, but it is our duty as citizens of the world to remain informed. It is also our duty to remember that while we are here, we can laugh, enjoy the sun and remember life. After all, we’re fine, we’re all perfectly fine.
Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.