This is a post about Christmas and my amazing godfather.
J and I are not religious people, but we were both sort of raised with default Judeo-Christian value systems and traditions. I mean…we’re white people from the American South/Midwest. That’s just…expected.
But my family is Catholic, and so is J’s, so we have godparents. And our son has godparents too. Our godmothers aren’t horrible people or anything, but none of the three of us are particularly close to our godmothers. J was very close to his godfather, who was his dad’s oldest brother. J was a pall bearer at his funeral. J looked up to him kind of LIKE a father. And my brother is The Boy’s godfather. They aren’t super close to each other, really, but if you count up Adult Men Who Are Not J in my son’s life, my brother is probably ‘next’ in the closeness hierarchy for The Boy. Either my brother or MY godfather.
My godfather is a couple years younger than my parents, but he never married or had kids of his own. Instead, he treated (and still treats) his godchildren like his. For any of you readers who read All The Things, you know my parents didn’t particularly care to do stuff with me that I was into. I learned to like some things THEY were into (sports, especially…because my dad would take me to horse racing tracks and he’d take me to baseball games or tennis matches if we could get some deep discount or free tickets…back when I was in school, the closest Major League Baseball team to where we live would give kids who made straight A’s a free ticket and up to 3 half price tickets to select baseball games and I always took them. Hell, I’ll just say it wasn’t THE motivator to get me to make all A’s, but it was A motivator. I’d get baseball with my dad if I got some Straight A Tickets and he’d actually talk to me…about baseball, but still…), but other than that, there was no attempt to spend discretionary funds on something that was mostly for me, or my interests.
T, my godfather, was not like this. Some of my best, most memorable all time Christmas gifts came from T.
My favorite cartoon as a kid was Scooby Doo, and I loved the movies with guest stars the most, and my favorite guest stars were The Harlem Globetrotters.
My parents probably still don’t know this about me. But T knew it in second grade. The Christmas I was in second grade, T got me tickets to see The Harlem Globetrotters for REAL play a ‘real’ game at our local arena. (For those of you who don’t know, the Globetrotters are sort of a basketball showmanship/comedy troupe more than a competitive team, which is why my dad would have been disinterested in going even though it’s kind of sporty.)
The Globetrotters made this famous. (see below)
I wish I could spin a basketball. And whistle. Still.
I’ve never outgrown Scooby Doo either.
Anyway, I also took ballet lessons for 2 years when I was a girl. I know that might be surprising, but I did, and I liked the lessons, even though they were a pretty girly thing to do and that was out of character for me.
They weren’t ‘serious’, I-Want-To-Really-Be-A-Ballerina-When-I-Grow-Up lessons. They were provided by my 4th grade teacher at my elementary school gym for like $3 a month or some ‘almost free’ amount. We didn’t even have a barre.
My parents wouldn’t have let me do it at all if it wasn’t ‘almost free,’ but they still bitched about how inconvenient taking me to lessons was. My mom had someone else’s mom video tape me taking a lesson without my consent, claiming she wanted to cherish it forever and watch it over and over, but I actually think now (and kind of even thought then) that she asked to make it seem like she was really broken up about never getting to watch me dance because she was always working. The tape sat for years unwatched. Like, for real, I can’t remember my mom ever once saying, ‘I sure would love to watch your ballet dancing. Let’s pop in that tape.’ So when I was in early high school, I taped over it with something I wanted to watch, but would miss because I had a social engagement. And my mom still brings up that I taped over the ballet class now that I’m 41. She NEVER watched it. From 4th through 10th grades. Not once. But shame on me, I guess.
Anyway, T is a retired firefighter. He’s kind of gruff and can be loud and he’s definitely overtly masculine. And he didn’t have a wife or daughter of his own to appease with learning about and acquiring traditionally feminine interests. I’m saying he was not a ballet kinda guy. He still isn’t. But the first Christmas after I started ballet, T got tickets for us to go see The Nutcracker.
My mom actually mentioned at family dinner Thursday night that she and my dad never took me anywhere when I was a kid (The Boy was talking about all the places he’s been with us…not just horse race tracks and baseball games…he has been to those…but also to a symphony performance and National Parks and Disneyland and Cedar Point and Dollywood and science and cultural heritage and history museums, and we’re going to more new places this summer, hopefully…). She said, ‘You got all your culture from T. God help you.’ Well, I am still grateful for T and the ‘culture’ he gave me.
I guess I just wanted to write a little gratitude post about T today for a lot of reasons.
First, in a way, he kind of showed me how I wanted to be treated in relationships with other people (not just romance…family, friends, working relationships…). It can’t always be about the other person, and T showed me that it’s NOT selfish to want things to be for yourself sometimes. He showed me that a person who loves you will accept you and WANT to do some of the things YOU like sometimes. For YOU. A person who loves you will care about the things YOU like, even when it’s not necessarily their thing. They’ll pay attention to you, and care about you. I think in a way T helped me find J. Because I immediately recognized that in J when we met. Around Christmas. Haha!
And second because T was immensely grateful for something I did for him as a favor a week-ish ago, so he could send out a ‘fancy’ Christmas card. Like…the gratitude definitely felt like overkill. It was sincere though. It was just something that was easy for me that I was happy to do for him, but the thanks I got were as if it was a huge sacrifice.
I don’t find doing things to help the people I love, or spending time with the people I love, even when it’s something I didn’t plan or didn’t particularly want to do…even when whatever I’m doing is I guess technically ‘a chore,’ to be sacrificial. But I appreciate being acknowledged and thanked. Even if sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable. I thank people a lot. I thank people the same way T does. I think I learned that from T too.