Anderson didn’t get his front teeth for Christmas after all. He got lots of neat stuff, but not all the teeth. One of his permanent teeth is actually about halfway in, but, with all that space still in his face, he’s just so stinking cute. Of course, all our grandchildren are. Everybody’s grandchildren are stinking cute and so very precious.
After a continuation of Christmas celebrating, Anderson approached a worn out Nahnee in our den with a grin and said, very sincerely, “Nahnee, I really liked all my Christmas presents, especially the one from my Nash cousins.” A model of our solar system was the gift he referred to. “I’m going to put it together and paint it.”
He was so excited, so appreciative, so cute with his snaggle-tooth smile.
“Saturn’s the one with the rings, right?” he said.
When I was 7 years old, I had never heard of Saturn. I still thought Pluto was just Mickey Mouse’s dog. But Anderson knows more than I knew back then. He even knows that Jupiter and Saturn are the planets that teamed up to create the recent Christmas Star excitement on our planet. He’s smart and talented, but, even more importantly, he is thankful and kind.
Next morning, we met for breakfast at Blackbird Bakery. Anderson sat with Grayson in the window seats looking out on the corner of Piedmont and Cumberland. His parents, aunt, and Nahnee and I sat at the closest table. We accounted for more than a fourth of the 25 customers allowed, due to COVID-19. Our adult conversation was soon interrupted by a concerned 7-year-old. “Mom! Dad! Look at the dog! He’s by himself, and I’m afraid he’ll get hit by a car!”
Five heads turned, as one, to see a white pit - across the street, smelling of the bushes, separated from the two streets by two sidewalks, and wearing a collar with tags dangling from it. But there was no leash and no human attached to the dog.
Taking the few steps to our table, he confronted his parents. “Please, let me run over there and get him. We can take him home with us. I’ll take care of him. I’m afraid he’ll get hurt.” The melancholy expression on his face matched his mournful appeal.
“Please,” he pleaded with a toothless lisp. “I’ll take care of him. I promise!”
“No!” The parents responded lovingly, but firmly, in unison.
Then they attempted to rationalize. “He’s wearing a collar, so he belongs to someone. They must be looking for him right now. We could never get him back to Mt. Juliet from Bristol. We have a boxer and four cats already. It would be dangerous for you to cross the street and approach a strange dog. He’s smart enough to stay out of the street.”
Anderson returned to his seat, but his eyes were fixed on the creature across the street. Grayson joined the vigil. Every few minutes one or both of the boys would turn toward our table with a pleading, desperate, despairing look, mouthing the word, “Please.”
Finally our canine friend strolled up Cumberland Avenue toward the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the boys view blocked by the building across from us. Only then did they begin to think about other things.
2021 is here. A new leaf. A new year. Hope for a brighter tomorrow. Goodbye 2020. You won’t be missed.
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Want a suggestion or two? It’s never too late. May I suggest that we all determine to be more childlike in the way we look at some things. Might I suggest that we, like Anderson, seek to be more appreciative, kind, and concerned about others. If a child can care that much about a dog he’s never met, surely you and I should care about other people.
“Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.”
Steve Playl, retired pastor and chaplain, columnist and college instructor, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org