It's been a fun, crazy weekend at Chez Smith. Saturday was my 51st birthday, as previously noted, and my wife had to work all day at a UIL event. So I got together with a couple of friends of mine and we spent a long, muddy day walking around looking for Indian arrowheads. We had a decent day, thanks to recent rains that had washed the beaches down, and I came home with about a half dozen nice points. My lovely daughters had baked a double chocolate cake for me, and my wife put 51 candles on it, nearly setting the icing on fire - but I still was able to blow them all out at once! We also had a huge pot of chicken and dumplings for supper, which I thoroughly enjoyed - but my poor wife managed to spill part of her bowl, burning both her wrists. We got her iced and medicated, and then I opened her present to me - a copy of Stephen King's latest novel, REVIVAL. It's probably the most mean-spirited thing he's written since PET SEMATARY, but the man is still a genius. He is a better writer on his worst day than I am on my best.
I was born on December 13, and my wife and I got married on December 15 (not in the same year, however!). So in our household, December 14 is affectionately called "Tweener Day". (The day between the two - oh, come on! Like you never give silly nicknames to things!). This year "Tweener Day" fell on a Sunday, so after sleeping till 8 AM, I dragged myself out of bed and began to get ready for church - but I had forgotten to take ibuprofen before bed, and the day's hiking and sliding along the muddy lake banks had left me very sore. Nonetheless, I made it to church, taught the male youth Sunday School class since their teacher was absent, the preached a sermon on the birth of John the Baptist from Luke 1.
I was delighted to see an old friend, David Yates, from the first church I ever pastored, Honey Creek in Wolfe City, TX, drop in for a visit. We invited him to dinner, and he spent most of the afternoon and evening. We went to Hastings for awhile, walking down the movie aisle and playing the "seen this one?" game, but we really spent the most part of the day just visiting and catching up - till 7:20 PM rolled around, that is! Then it was down to serious business.
It is time I came clean here: I am a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. I was a fan when they went 1-15, and I was a fan when they won three Super Bowls in four years. I started watching in the twilight of the Tom Landry era, and have watched them play under every hapless coach in the Age of Jerry. (Being a Cowboys fan in the Jones era is not unlike being a subject of Louis XIV, the longest reigning monarch in European history - you might love him, you might hate him, but he is going to be there, year after year, no matter what, as the supporting cast around him changes again and again.) Like all true Cowboys fans, I have a deep and abiding hatred of the Philadelphia Eagles. The team, their coaches, their fans, their putrid green Eagle mascot . . . this is a team I want to see the Cowboys CRUSH, every year. And, after the absolute donkey-stomping they gave us on Thanksgiving Day, I wanted it BAD. Well, I got it! It was a thrilling, frustrating, and ultimately soul-cleansing win for my Boys, and I went to bed and slept the sleep of the righteous and vindicated.
Monday was, of course, time to go back to work - albeit with a reduced workload this particular Monday. I teach at a small Christian school, and most of our high schoolers were either in the Dominican Republic or Shreveport, LA on mission trips this week. The 20 or so remaining 9th thru 12th graders got on a bus Monday morning and drove over to Operation Christmas Child in Dallas to help pack toys and presents for the poor, so I had only two classes all day. I used the time to grade papers, average grades, and figure out exemptions for semester exams.
But Monday was also the 30th anniversary of the day that I married my best friend and childhood sweetheart, and she was never far from my thoughts as I read student essays and punched numbers into our gradebook program. As soon as she got off work from her job in Royse City, we met in Greenville and went out for a very nice Japanese dinner at the local hibachi grill, Shogun's. (We spent the first year and a half of our married life in Japan, and have a fondness for all things Oriental that persists to this day. It was a lovely dinner - sushi, gyoza, and fresh grilled hibachi steak, salmon, and calamari. It was way too expensive, but we enjoyed every single bite, and then came home and spent a good part of the evening sitting on the couch, digesting our meals as we watched TV together and talked about times past. "Mawwage is the weason we are hewah today," the old priest in THE PRINCESS BRIDE said, and he said a mouthful despite the funniest speech defect in motion picture history. Marriage isn't just about romance and passion and long embraces and sweet kisses; it's also about having a person who knows you better than anyone and still enjoys your company, who is just as willing to sit in silence and watch a movie with you as to spend the evening in deep conversation, who laughs at my jokes, even if she's heard them a hundred times before, and who shares all those silly "inside jokes" that no one else in the world will ever understand. Patty and I got on this merry-go-round together thirty years ago, and we are still laughing at every circuit and not ready to get off the ride yet. I am blessed in many things, but perhaps most of all in my life's partner. Here's to the next thirty, my love!