Friday, December 14, 2007

First Capitol News Sports - Mike McMurran Sports Editor

“Deferred gratification,” is a phrase that pretty much describes my life. Don’t think it wasn’t hard being thirty something years old and trying to complete my undergraduate degree at UMSL. Often times I would run into people I grew up with and they would share with me how they had started a family and were working on furthering their career. All I could say was, “I’m still going to school.” All they while they were making money and collecting “stuff.” As time went on things kind of balanced out and in some cases I even surpassed them in the race “to collect stuff.”

As regular readers of this column know, I started having children later in life – I was 41 years-old when my daughter, Maggie, was born. Today’s column deals with Maggie, having my priorities in order – and the opposite of deferred gratification – immediate gratification.

For the past three years or so, Bob Barton and I have covered the “Guns and Hoses” event held downtown on Thanksgiving Eve. This year was to be no different. Of course as those of you with children know, when you have children – things change at the drop of a hat. It seems Maggie’s performing arts troupe, Just Kids (the youngest group from the Patt Holt Singers) had a gig at Macy’s on Thanksgiving Eve. The group has a Christmas Show where the children dress up like elves and sing and dance and make everyone within the sound of their voices smile and feel better. That’s pretty much what they do – make people feel better. Well, it seems Macy’s was having a giant celebration to kick off the official holiday season and they needed some elves. The folks at Macy’s did what anybody with any sense would do if they needed some elves, they called Patt Holt. “How many elves do you need and what size,” is probably what Patt said to the folks at Macy’s. You see she has a wide variety of elves for just such an occasion.

The “t’s” were crossed and the “i’s” were dotted and my daughter had a Thanksgiving Eve gig – a real paying gig! The girls had to be downtown by 6 p.m. Ah, but you see, Lynn, who usually volunteers to transport the girls, wouldn’t get home from work until 5:45 or so – she wouldn’t be able to take the girls. I couldn’t because I had to go to Guns and Hoses – or so I thought. “Dad, can you drive us downtown to Macy’s – please?” Well, I guess if you’ve seen one fight you’ve seen them all – so I agreed. On Thanksgiving Eve I was in a van full of young elves on their way to their paying gig.

All went well, the girls had a good time, and were home by 10 p.m. I was none the worse for missing Guns and Hoses.

Thanksgiving morning the dogs woke me up at their usual 5 a.m. – they didn’t know it was a holiday and they could have slept in. I’m one of those types of people that once I get up I’m awake – at least for a few hours. So I made some coffee and read the morning paper. By the time the rest of the family was up, I was ready for a nap. So at about 11 or so I laid down for a power nap.

Then it happened, not deferred gratification, but rather one of those magic moments of being a parent. One of those moments that make everything you’ve done worth wild! At noon, on Thanksgiving Day, Maggie came in and woke me. “Dad, it’s noon, it’s noon on Thanksgiving Day, and that song we always listen to will be coming on soon – get up!” For those of you who don’t have a rock and roll background, every Thanksgiving Day, at high noon KSHE 95, the rock station most of us grew up with, plays Arlo Guthrie’s, Alice’s Restaurant. It’s been their tradition for over thirty years. Well, some five years ago, I turned Maggie on to the song. Remember now, Maggie loves music, and found the song very interesting.

Rather than go downstairs and listen to Alice’s Restaurant, Maggie and I laid down in the bed, my arm around her, and listened to the classic tune – that is until the final two stanzas of the song. On Thanksgiving Day, at around 12:20 or so, Maggie and I were singing out loud, together, one sounding sweet, the other terrible: “You can get anything your want, at Alice’s Restaurant.”

In case I didn’t make my point clear, I would have missed the song had she not waken me from my Thanksgiving morning nap – she remembered our Thanksgiving tradition. I couldn’t help but think – this is what you get for giving up Guns and Hoses and taking your daughter to do her Thanksgiving Eve paying gig at Macy’s. Then it really struck me, I bet, years after I’m dead and gone, my daughter will be listening to Alice’s Restaurant with her kids, and saying something like, “I used to listen to this song with my dad when I was your age. Now I’m listening to it with you.” And for a moment, she’ll remember her dear old dad.