Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
December 3, 2000

Enjoying today, remembering yesterday, and wondering about tomorrow

The sun has gone down on another Thanksgiving Day. Leaves keep falling on this quiet day of reflection which reminds us that Christmas is just around the corner. Tomorrow is that strange day when the courageous warriors among us will flock to the department stores for those "after Thanksgiving Day sales." I won't be among them.

Excuse me a moment; my great grandson Tyler Courtney just ran through the room so I had to brace myself. He is two and a half.

For our family this has been a wonderful day but one etched in sadness as well as joy. We have celebrated with about 16 of our family members, eaten too much, and napped after lunch in a vain effort to get interested in some NFL football games. My boys and I reflect on the old days when it was exciting to watch the Dallas Cowboys plan. But that was long ago when my friend Tony Agee played fullback.

Opps! Excuse me again; Tyler just came by. I thought it would be great fun to have him sit on my lap for a few minutes. He did, for one second.

The deer hunters have made their way quietly into the woods. They leave like "Rambo" on a dangerous mission into enemy territory. After dark they will return like "Mr. Roberts," with stories of how many deer they saw and about the 10-point buck that got away. Undaunted, they will rise before dawn and go out again in the morning.

"Don't touch that vase!" I hear someone say, reminding me that Tyler is riding through on his broomstick "talking horse" again. That boy does not suffer for lack of attention.

Thanksgiving Day stirs so many memories for us older pilgrims. My mind goes back to those days when my grandparents were the old folks at the table. Then later to those days when my parents were the honored aged ones. Today it is a sobering thought to realize that I am now married to a great grandmother, and we are the ancient pair. And I wonder if these little ones think of us as being as old as I thought my grandparents were when I was a boy.

Pardon me - here comes Tyler again. Does that kid never take a nap? Why can't his parents make him sit still for five minutes? Once again he sits on my knee, for one second.

Mom was disappointed that the whole family could not be together today. She thinks just like my mamma did: Why can't everyone understand that there is no place else to be but at our house on Thanksgiving Day? But that becomes less likely as children grow up and start their own families. And, believe it or not, some of them have other priorities.

Our oldest son, Matt and his wife Tammy, are in North Carolina, visiting Tammy's sister. Matt, by the way, is Tyler's grandfather. He is in seminary in Wilmore, KY, and Alabama was simply too far away for a brief visit. They will be home for Christmas.

Youngest son, Steve, is in Canada on a hunting trip with some friends. He will be home soon, if he kills a big "white tail" buck, or if not, by the end of next week. Why choose this time to hunt in Canada? Why not, he asks. His wife, Amy, and their two sons, Jake and Josh, are in Demopolis visiting her family.

Our other two sons, Mark and Tim, are with us today, along with their six children - three apiece. We talk about football with John, Anthony, and Robert, who are older than Tim's son, Joseph, and daughters, Hannah and Sarah. We talk with Joseph about playing basketball, with Hannah about how she helps her mamma, Karen, cook. Sarah, who is three, is rather shy but enjoys having others read her books to her.

Excuse me again - Tyler is screaming now. No, his mamma Clair explains, she did not hit him; he shut a door on one of his fingers, and he wants his daddy Matt Courtney, to fix his finger. So who cares about concentrating anyway? And would you believe - Clair and Matt are expecting another Tyler in early January. Imagine - two Tylers in the same room!

Somewhat exhausted from all her cooking, Mom obviously enjoys being with our precious daughters-in-law, Karen and Sherri, who is Mark's wife. Did I go overboard, you ask, in calling them "precious"? Absolutely not! Look, they took our sons off our hands, relieving us of the job of taking care of them. I know about some sons who at age 35 are still at home, while their weary parents are asking, "Do you think this is a Holiday Inn?" No, we will do anything humanly possible for our daughters-in-law so long as they don't ship our sons back home!

Here he goes again - Tyler doesn't need a skateboard; he moves fast enough without one. Once more the vision pops in my mind: Tyler quietly sitting on my lap as I tell him how much I love him. He sits there, for another second. My record for the day, actually, is clear: Tyler has sat in my lap for four seconds, one at a time. I know his parents are feeding him jumping beans!

As the shadows fall I think about all the leaves on the lawn. I could rake up several piles of them before dark. It would not take very long. But, exerting my strength, I resist the temptation, and decide to take a nap. Why not? Tyler is alseep at last, thank goodness, and Clair says he usually takes a two-hour nap. I doze off peacefully in my big chair.

Three minutes later, guess who is in the room, rearranging the items on the glass coffee table? Right, it's Tyler. Turns out he does not take two-hour naps on Thanksgiving Day!

About an hour ago I had conjured up a sage and inspiring conclusion to all these holiday thoughts. I had planned to pontificate about how wise we should be to give thanks for yesterday, enjoy today, and leave tomorrow in the Father's hands. But I think I will close with this astute observation: Tylers are what Thanksgiving Day is all about!

Excuse me again - once more I am about to make a mighty effort to get Tyler to sit in my lap! Wish me luck!