On An Unusually Cold Evening In Winter
Alyssa recollects how, one day, her Mom brought her and her other two siblings, Mia and Jessica together for a chat. She was was the youngest of three. She says It was an unusually cold winter evening, and they had made some log-fire in the living room to keep their bodies warm.
Alyssa’s Mom was actually narrating to them a memorable occasion on her eighteenth birthday – she is now sixty-five! According to her Mom, during one week-end, on her eighteenth birthday, she invited five of her classmates to her home for a sleepover and a party the next day. They were Emma, Emily, Sarah, Nadia and Isabella. Emma was the oldest and Nadia, the youngest.”
Alyssa’s Mom narrated to them that:
After wining and dining until the next day morning, which was a Friday night, her friends and herself went to bed and slept until 5 p.m. the next day. Before they woke up, Alyssa’s Grandma and Grandpa had already prepared dinner and set the table. As they sat around the table eating, one of her Mom’s friends, Emma, giggled nervously when their grandma congratulated her on the costume she was wearing. According Alyssa’s Mom, Nadia was a tall, beautiful and a sixteen-year old, who had already started dating.
Mom Describes Grandpa’s Personality
Alyssa then goes to say that, during their chat in the living room that evening, a wave of nostalgia overtook her Mom, as she tried to recall the halcyon days of her youth. Using her bare hands to wipe out tears dropping freely down her cheeks, she said:
“Your Grandpa had been a very jovial person. He was tall, with wispy brown hair, a face of great benignity set on a gangling body. During his lifetime, he behaved with others with benignity and benevolence. When he was alive, people extended their hands of cooperation toward him. They honored and respected him. They shed tears after his death. He led such an agreeable life that no one had any complaint against him, nor did he cause any harm to anyone during his lifetime. He always attracted others to himself. So since his death fifteen years ago, he has always been remembered in good words. Undoubtedly, a tree that has a thick trunk tends to have many branches.”
Trying to balance her self on the sofa she was sitting on, Alyssa’s Mom continued:
“As Emma, Isabella, Emily, Sarah, Nadia and myself sat around the table eating our dinner, little did we realize it was going to be an unforgettable dinner. Indeed, the mother of all dinners. Your grandparents later joined us on the dinner table”. Pausing for a moment, she continued:
Grandpa Embarrasses Alyssa’s Mom
“Your Grandpa had realized Nadia’s gorgeous costume and said:
“Nadia, who’s that lucky guy in your life?”
“There’s nobody yet.”
“Aren’t you dating at the moment?”
“I used to, but right now, I have stopped.”
After a brief silence, and speaking as if a bone had been stuck in her gullet, Nadia answered:
“I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed all along as your Grandpa continued asking my friend about her private life. I had invited Nadia – the most beautiful among us, and my other four classmates for a sleepover to celebrate my birthday party and nothing else.
After all whether she’d been dating or not was none of your Grandpa’s business. Your Grandpa continued:
“Do you mean you have not given up on men yet?”
“No, not at all. It’s only that I’ve now gotten frustrated because I can’t find the man of my dreams.”
“The man of your dreams?” your Grandpa asked.
“Yes, a smart, handsome, tall, intelligent, well-educated and wealthy man.” Nadia explains.
Turning his attention to my other friend, Emma, who was nineteen, he inquired:
“Are you also in the same dilemma?”
“Of course I am. It seems to me that all the smart guys have died alongside the dinosaur.” Emma asserted.
Alyssa’s Grandma Heads Into The Kitchen
Alyssa’s Mom continues:
A feeling of shock and discouragement engulfed all of us at the table. Your Grandma hadn’t spoken a word until now. I watched in blank dismay as she got up and headed to the kitchen. After a few minutes inside, she returned with a large jar of fresh orange juice. She then went back to the kitchen and later returned with an assortment of cups—porcelain, plastics, some plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, asking us to help ourselves to fresh orange juice.
When all of us had a cup of fresh orange juice in hand, giving a chuckle of delight,
Your Grandma said:
“If you all notice, all the nice-looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.”
Your Grandma continued:
“While it is quite normal for you all to want only the best for yourselves, that also serves as a source of your anguish. What all of you really wanted to drink was fresh orange juice, not the cups. However, all of you consciously went for the better cups, and surprisingly enough, you are eyeing each other’s cups!”
Alyssa’s Mom narrates:
Leaning toward Isabella who had been sitting next to her on her right side, Your Grandma said:
“These cups are like the sort of men you young girls have been searching unsuccessfully for. These cups are nothing but tools that contain the fresh orange juice you are all drinking. The quality of the orange juice you put in any other cup, whether a cheap and a plastic one or an exquisite one doesn’t change. What matters is the orange juice—not the cups. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cups, we fail to enjoy the orange juice in them.”
Alyssa’s Mom continues her narrative:
At once every one of us at the dinner table, including your Grandpa looked pensive. We were all at a lost as to where your Grandma was coming from. None of us seemed to have the slightest idea of what she was trying to say.
The Orange Juice Gives Nourishment – Not The Cups!
Looking straight into Alyssa’s Mom’s eyes, Her Grandma said:
“It’s natural for every young girl at your age to dream of dating the smartest and the most handsome of all men. That’s the reason why all of you chose to drink the orange juice from the most expensive and exquisite cups. I intentionally chose a variety of cups to see what type of cup each of you chooses to have their orange juice. My worst fears were confirmed as I saw all of you going for the more expensive ones. As if that wasn’t enough, I saw how each of you eyed one another’s cup. You were more concerned about the type of cups, their appearances, than the orange juice itself.”
Pausing for a moment, your Grandma continued:
“The orange juice is what would give you nourishment, not the cups. The orange juice is the love that would sustain you and who ever you chooses to date and subsequently marry. You should have rather concentrated on the quality of the orange juice—not the quality of these cups. The cups represent those men you are all aspiring to date, and the orange juice also represent the love you should have been more concerned about.”
Men Are Like Containers Of Love!
Alyssa’s Grandma continued:
“As for the men of your dreams, they act like containers of love. They may only be empty containers. Even though, outwardly they could be pleasant-looking like those cups you all chose. They (men) could even have personalities that can charm animals and confuse plants, but inwardly, their characters will not necessarily be solid. With a grim face, the old lady said: “Now you girls, tell me, what is the use of an exquisite and expensive cup if it can’t contain liquids?”
Alyssa’s Mom said:
“Having said all that, your Grandma kissed the old man on his forehead and left the dining room. For about five minutes none of us uttered a word. We all tried to be stoic about your Grandma’s statements, but as soon as we left the dinner table and returned to my bedroom, we all began to cry and bang our foreheads on the floor. For about ten minutes none of us could look into one another’s face.
We felt so ashamed of ourselves that we just slipped unnoticed through a back door of our house and left. The old lady was right.” Alyssa’s Mom concluded.
Turning to Jessica, the oldest of Alyssa’s sisters, Her Mom said:
“Age has its privileges, not least among them is the opportunity to distill whatever wisdom come from a long life of experience.”
At this point, Alyssa’s Mom then started weeping uncontrollably. Her Mom’s speech was so filled with pathos that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. At this time the log-fire was getting dimmer and coldness began to set in. It was already mid-night and the neighborhood was becoming quiet. Alyssa could see how, Jessica and her other sibling, Mia tried in vain to calm down their Mom. It seemed to them that she’d regretted for a mistake she did in the past, and was now trying to advise them against falling into the same pit.
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