C.W. Martin was a professional photographer. Every Christmas morning, he would insist that my sisters and I remain at the top of the stairs while he and our mother went downstairs and prepared. He would take what seemed to be 20 years, beginning with slipping on his bathrobe and freshening up, then mozying downstairs, setting up his camera equipment, making a pot of coffee, and then drinking his coffee. I think my mother even made him toast, for crying out loud. He may as well have taken a stroll down to South Carolina, too; it took him for-ev-er to finish all his preparations.
|A photo my father took of my sisters and me (in the box)|
Many years later, I came to understand what my father was really doing. He was teaching his children patience, something in shockingly short supply among children most of the time and especially on December 25th.
This excruciating wait every year also helped me appreciate, eventually, the sweetness of anticipation at all times of the year. The waiting for something good can be nearly as rewarding as the thing itself (and sometimes, even more so). Anticipation can last for weeks, months, years, while the thing you're waiting for comes and goes all too quickly.
|C.W. Martin (1911-1993)|
We all need something to look forward to; to appreciate while we have it; and to have fond memories of when it's gone. Life is pretty flat otherwise, and my father understood that delayed gratification helped enrich each of those experiences. Through his annual Christmas morning dawdle, he gave me a gift that I was only able to appreciate decades later. It was worth waiting for.