A lifelong northerner prepares to develop a southern accent

Now that we are in the season of Advent, it is time to be thinking ahead to an important date on the calendar. The arrival of Christ is a singular event requiring preparation — of our homes, our hearts and most importantly, our souls. For at least the month before Christmas we live through a haze of decorating our homes inside and out, baking family favorite foods, addressing and sending greeting cards, buying and wrapping gifts, and marveling at the marvelous holiday displays in our neighborhoods. We are often so caught up in the festive atmosphere that we forget the real reason for all the celebration.

We seem to be always looking back or looking forward, and so we fail to live in the current moment. It is how we spend these precious moments that will determine our past as they speed into the future. In days to come our history will be a product of what we do with our time right now. We can waste it by endlessly dreaming, or we can use it wisely by investing it in what is most likely to provide spiritual dividends for ourselves or material benefits for others who are unable to provide for themselves.

We like to think that we are in total charge of our destinies and can plot a path that will lead to the goals we set. Sometimes we are disappointed that what we have envisioned is not going to happen, but often where we arrive is far better than where we set out to go. Those hidden bends in the road can lead to places unimagined by our limited vision. Had we been unwilling to deviate from our prescribed paths we might have missed marvelous opportunities. Life happens at warp speed, and if we live only in the past or future, we may miss those defining moments that seem so minor but have a major impact on us, our families and perhaps even our posterity.

A recent trip to spend Thanksgiving with part of our family led to a major life change for my husband and me. For years our sons have been trying to convince us that we need to be closer to family, but we had grown so complacent in the comfort of our home and friends that we then put that advice aside.

A series of health issues cropped up and made us wonder whether our sons had been right all along, but still we drifted and demurred. Moving is so much trouble, and all of our children live so far.

During our week with the youngest grandchildren we realized how much we had missed with our grown grandchildren and are now missing with this new group. We had no idea how much our children wanted us to move to Alabama to be near our little Southern Belles until our youngest son took us to see a house in his neighborhood that had come up for sale. The house was so perfect for us that it was as if an unseen force were at work to convince us once and for all.

My son and his wife are sure that God has a guiding hand in their lives. Why else did we decide to go to Huntsville on that week and look at that house just one day before leaving for home?

We flew home on Saturday, made an offer on Monday and will settle by early next year. We lifelong Northerners (I from Atlantic City and he from Downeast Maine) are about to convert. We will become Southerners and may even develop a drawl. As a retired English teacher I have a hard time picturing myself saying “Y’all,” but one never knows. It could happen.

What I know for sure is that in this season of Advent (or coming), my husband and I are making a move (the present) from what has been our life in the past to a future that is uncertain but promising. At this time of our lives when we should be “settling down for a long winter’s nap,” we are restarting our journey. Now there is faith!

Ann Dow is a retired English teacher.

Categories: As I See It

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