Wrapping paper flying about the parlor.
Sixteen people at the table.
Little boys with pistols.
I recognize this scene. This could be my house on Christmas Day any year since we moved here in 2004.
"Each of us knew that the others were dealing nearly all the time with the thought of the war, but that thought we kept in the secret quiet of our own minds....The war was a bodily presence. It was in all of us, and nobody said a word."
My family is not directly impacted by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don't have it as a "bodily presence" in the midst of our celebrations.
But we do have griefs and burdens present in our gatherings that we don't talk about directly; immovable sadness over circumstances beyond our ability to explain or fix. I think they are present in some form in every family and like the Feltner Clan, we choose to celebrate and rejoice around them and in spite of them.
Wendell draws a most beautiful picture of mirth and warmth and nostalgia in this scene, doesn't he?
I love the details Hannah remembers, especially of the little boys and their pistols, of Virgil and his teasing and of the visiting dignitaries: Uncle Jack Beechum and Grandmam.
"To have the two of them there, at opposite corners of the table, with their long endurance in their faces, and their present affection and pleasure, was a blessing of another kind."Hannah doesn't describe another Christmas Day like this one and in fact the chapter ends with the knowledge that "what we were that day was lovely and could not last."
How do you read this? What was it about that day that would not be repeated again? Is it just Virgil and seeing her life in sections: pre-war and post-war? I am really wondering about this because it seems to me that we think this every Christmas--when it's a good one. We think there won't be another one again so special as the one we just had. And then it happens and we repeat ourselves.
Is this Wendell inserting himself, presenting an ideal, asking us to pay attention, again, to the people around our tables?
Did it seem believable to you that they found Andy Catlett crying in a corner at the end of the day?
Too many questions, perhaps.
Discuss at will.