If Nancy had not fallen into the Christmas tree, I might never have noticed. I was quietly reading a back number of Time (when I recover my copy from the boys’ wastebasket or under the All in the laundry, it is always a back number); I was reading, I say, Time (and don’t think there is any payola in my plugging that magazine or mentioning a detergent; sometimes I wish I were not so anonymous). I’ll begin again. I was quietly reading when Nancy fell into the Christmas tree. It was a routine holiday accident, Nancy, age four, was crying because she couldn’t touch the star on the top of the tree, and Willie was lifting her up so that she could, and Charles was lying on the floor watching television, and Sue was practicing a dribble and lay-up shot with an imaginary basketball. Sue stumbled over Charles and clipped Willie, who windmilled wildly before catapulting Nancy into the middle of the tree. The whole incident didn’t take more than five seconds, and everything was set right in two or three hours, including replacing the tree lights and getting three stitches in Nancy’s chin.
However, I recalled, while I was searching for the magazine again, that I had been reading about the success of Mr. Hall of Hallmark Cards (remember, I don’t receive even a complimentary get-well assortment out of this). I had just come to the sentence that stated what the alltime best selling card was when the catastrophe struck. What was that alltime bestseller? The question became important. Here was an image of an age. This is the kind of thing a budding sociologist takes seriously. No doubt the bestseller would be seasonal. Perhaps a wise men design, symbolizing the yearning of modern man for his dimly remembered faith.
Three days later, I found the right magazine in the public library. I finished the article. The alltime bestselling card shows a cart loaded with pansies.
I walked home through the sleet. Am I, too, a beatnik at heart? What’s wrong with pansies? Perhaps they will become the national flower. Or does this account for the “time wounds all heels” variety of cards that are taking over at the drug store? Is this the revolt of existentialism against the old liberal optimism of the pansies? Does the elderly Mr. Hall have the same sure touch in selecting designs for these wierdies?
There was a get-well greeting for Nancy in the mailbox from Aunt Sally. Yes, a cartload of pansies.
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St. Johns Methodist Church
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