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Whittling Away: Too young to be old


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

It’s almost here!

I still get excited about Christmas, I wonder if this will be one of the years that I hear the sleigh bells. I’ve heard them before and am eager to hear them again.

It’s easier to be awake late into the night than it used to be, so hopefully I’ll hear their soft tinkle through the infomercial I’m watching. My Queen remarks frequently that I will remain forever at a mental age of 12. I hope she is right, she usually is. It’s a pleasant thought.

It’s not that aging is a bad thing, someone commented the other day that I was a “young senior citizen.” I hadn’t looked at it that way, it’s kind of nice. At that rate, I guess you don’t become a senior senior until the age of 85 or so.

I have many Christmas Pasts to look back on, I’m excited about the coming Christmas Present but I can’t help wondering about the Christmas Futures to come.

I had a little ponder about what was to come the other day. I love just thinking and imagining dumb stuff, which kind of confirms The Queen’s comments about my mental age. Charles Dickens did the same kind of thing, though, and look where it got him.

My Christmas Future scene is set in “The Creaking Joint Rest Home.” I am now a senior senior.  I sit napping in a comfy chair with an open copy of “The Night Before Christmas” on my lap.  The support hose, diabetic stockings and industrial-strength knee highs are hung by the fireplace with care. There’s a small tree in the corner on a table where it won’t be run over during the daily walker and wheelchair races. It is decorated beautifully, covered in gilded pill bottles and gold-framed reading glasses. Festive bowls of prunes and no fat, no sugar, no cholesterol, no-taste cookies are placed around the room. 

My friend Gary wheels slowly by, mumbling Christmas carols softly to himself, forgot his teeth again! He gets distracted by the cookies, stops mumbling and starts gumming.

It isn’t unpleasant here; children from the local school stop by to sing carols for us. The staff are doing their best to keep us jolly and to occasionally whip us into a frenzy of enthusiasm over a Christmas craft or two. 

Late Christmas Night, I shuffle from my room, unable to sleep as usual, and I sit in the darkened community room and wait. Finally, I hear the bells. It IS the bells, not just my hearing aid squawking. 

There’s a noise in the fireplace and Santa tumbles down. I help him up and get him dusted off. I tell him where he is, he smiles and laying a finger up to his nose, he goes right to work filling the hose hanging off the front on the fireplace. 

Having completed his job, I remind him about the diabetic cookies and herbal tea set on the table with the tree on it that had been left for him. He sits, snacks and we talk, mostly about Christmases Past. 

We both take a short nap, I wake first, shake Santa, tell him where he is and what he had left to do on this busy night, walk him to the fireplace and help stuff him up it.

There comes a shuffling, sliding sound from the roof. I hear the bells again and hear Santa yell, “A merry Christmas to all and whatever!” and he is gone. 

It was great to see him again and I was glad to help, you see by then I’ll be a young senior senior and Santa will be a very senior senior senior.

Thought for the week — Merry Christmas to all, happy holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas, and happy birthday to the baby who started it all.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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