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Sunday 03 Jul 2022

The Thought Counts
AJ Robinson

“It’s the thought that counts.” How many times have we heard that bromide? Most especially when it comes to Christmas presents?

Here’s a soft carrot, but it’s the thought that counts.

When I was a young child, oh, the efforts I put into meeting that goal. It was quite the struggle for some people, in particular my mom. This year, I don’t have that problem, but I wouldn’t mind if I did.

I was thinking of that phrase, “It’s the thought that counts.” All those gifts, over all those years, there was one thought uppermost in my mind, love. No matter what I gave her, I always strove to make it an expression of that one simple emotion.

During the Great Recession money was especially tight. I had nothing to give her for a birthday. So, I wrote my mother a short story.

The original title was “Because You Were There.” I wrote it from the heart, sent it to my brother Greg, he printed it out and gave it to her. You would I gave her the Hope Diamond.

Yes, a simple expression of love. This month, looking forward to Christmas Day, I keep coming back not merely to my love for my mother, but how I manifested the expression of that affection. Given my autism, I’m not always the most expressive of people.

I looked back over my years with her. Did I say it enough? Did I show it enough? Did she truly know how I felt?

For a while, these questions tortured my soul. Then, out of the blue, a rather obscure scene from a television series, of long ago, gave me the answer.

All in the Family

In the 1970s, I was a big fan of All in the Family, a sitcom, focused on the Bunker family, that was highly controversial, even by the standards of today. It was so popular it created a spin-off called The Jeffersons, a show that centred on the lives I was successful, upwardly mobile Black family, in New York City. In fact, I think it might have been the first time in television history that a show did that and thus created that term.

The Jeffersons, neighbours of the Bunkers, launched on an episode of All in the Family. They’re shown packing their belongings to move to their “deluxe apartment in the sky,” as the theme song of the show describes. Edith Bunker comes over to say goodbye before they leave.

Edith and Louise Jefferson share a tender moment. Quite abruptly, Edith asks Louise if she ever told her that she loved her. Louise replies with absolute perfection. She says Edith said it every day.

That’s when I found a small measure of peace. Yes, my mom knew I loved her. I knew she loved me.

We said it every day to each other. When I was a little boy, she said it with Cream of Wheat and hot tea, with taking me to movies, driving me to music lessons and the beach and, most especially, by letting me have a dog. Yes, we love each other, deeply, and showed it in our actions, everyday.

I’d like to think I said it as much to her, but I fear I fell short on the total count. Now I know that it doesn’t matter. I said it, she knew it and the knowledge provides me a tiny measure of peace in this holiday season.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

When Christmas Day comes, I know I will weep for her, but I’ll be with my family, in that aura of love I will find holiday cheer, happiness and, yes, peace. Merry Christmas, Mommy. My best to Dad and everyone else.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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