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Waiting

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 12/22/2005

Waiting Transcript

For Shelley Fraser Mickle, the holidays are not only a time for celebration, but also for waiting. 

At this time of year near the holidays, it does not matter what a child celebrates, either Christmas or Hanukkah, or any other event. What is really waiting in the wings is a lifelong lesson that is rarely mastered. And that is waiting itself. 

My Uncle Louis called the month of December the “Days of Fidget.” My Aunt Filene said that childhood is a matter of learning how to wait. And every second she could, she drove the lesson home. She would call me and my cousins into the kitchen fifteen minutes before her brownies came out of the oven, so that she could tell us to sit down and wait. In the fall, Aunt Filene said she’d come pick us up at the state fair at 5 p.m. and that if we weren’t waiting at the gate, she’d leave and make us walk home. She would then drive up at 5:20, so we would have a good lesson in standing and waiting for nearly half an hour. She bought us guppies the size of pinheads and told us to wait to see them grow into fish of a respectable size. 

Even worse was when Uncle Louis took us fishing, because then the lesson in waiting was second only to when he told us to sit down and watch his hair grow. Uncle Louis was pretty much bald. And for as long as I knew him, I saw him catch only one fish. 

But nothing could quite equal waiting for the morning of Christmas, because the anticipation of what Aunt Filene called “the manifestation of a wish fulfilled”  well, that came pretty close to sitting in the kitchen smelling her mouth-watering brownies bake at a slow two hundred degrees. 

I myself never came up to Aunt Filene or Uncle Louis’s standards for waiting. Usually by Christmas morning, I would have pinched every corner of every wrapped present until I could stick a finger inside and wiggle it around and guess at what the gift was. I think this is what is called half-waiting. 

So far, after nearly fifty years beyond my own childhood, half-waiting is still the best I can do.

Posted in Holidays, Stories