Memory is a funny thing: a conversation years ago gets moshed, images vivid but so specific. Prior to the holidays, I had in my head a conversation I had with a friend - a connection made through work, but a very special person. She is from a community just outside of Beaufort that we had been working with to get improved wastewater services. That effort has yet to successfully get those services to the community, but that will be the subject of another blog post.
It was between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I was down visiting Mary to plan a meeting with the county manager, and we met for lunch. Over lunch we shared our plans for the upcoming holidays. She was most notably sharing the gift she had gotten her son: a karaoke machine that's available at Wal Mart. "That's what he really wants. I asked him if he's sure, if he's really going to use it, and he said 'definitely.' I know that in a few months he will probably put it in the back of his closet and not touch it again. I don't like getting him things he won't use, but he said he really wants it..." She went on to talk about getting him from basketball practice in time to see the Christmas parade. "I'll probably stop at McDonald's and get him something, as long as he doesn't have much homework. It's his little reward."
This is somehow, to me, a quintessential snapshot of life in America. A household in which both parents work: she is staff at the hospital and he is a truck-driver. The son in 8th grade plays football and basketball, does alright in school. Christmas gifts are a big deal in that they want to give the kids something they want. They plan a family vacation each summer, most often around visiting family - that next summer was planned a big trip to Disney World. And the indulgence of stopping by McDonald's on occasion after practice.