Apr. 28, 2015

Spend All Your Kisses!

 “Jenny kissed me when we met, jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad, say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add…. Jenny kissed me.”  James Henry Leigh Hunt

I’ve just spent the last ten days in Texas, visiting our youngest daughter, Crissy, her husband, Chris, and their two little girls, Jessie and Emily, who are seven and four, and more fun than a carnival, a circus, and a week at Disneyland. The Texas bluebonnets were in bloom, we had torrential rain, tornado watches and a little hail; none of which kept us from having the best time ever.

Emily, who says her real name is “TuTu Pants Golden Flower” made the sage observation on Saturday morning while I was making pumpkin pancakes, “If you give a unicorn a pancake, he’ll eat the plate.” We all said, “well, OK! Would you like three pancakes or four?” She had four.  When I left everyone later that day at Gate C19 at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the girls kissed me, told me they would miss me and asked who would cook sausage for them when I was gone. As I was very close to tears at that time, I had nothing for them but just another hug and a strangled, “I love you.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but the nicest thing is going on, it’s people kissing. Couples sharing a quick kiss as they head off to work, jumping into separate cars with a cup of coffee; friends giving a goodbye smooch after yoga class before they scatter to start their day; a kiss on top of the head for a dog who has sat patiently in front of Starbucks waiting for his/her owner to return; and best of all, parents kissing their little ones goodbye before they race off to school. That morning scramble is a very hectic time, an hour packed with trying to get little people dressed, teeth brushed, something nutritious in their tummies, organizing the backpack, getting the hair combed, finding the permission slip and the lunch, and not losing the parental temper because wee ones have a tendency to move at snail speed in the morning. I shudder to think how many times I did not kiss my little ones goodbye before they left for school. I think parents are doing it better these days. 

Some years ago, my Aunt Helen gave me a wonderful book: Spend All Your Kisses, Mr. Smith by Jack Smith, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times that we both read faithfully for years and years. Jack Smith was acerbic, opinionated, and funny. He held very little back regarding his personal life and family. Personal stuff is the most interesting thing anyone can write about as we are all consumed with curiosity about how those around us live. 

Jack came across the quote, “Spend All Your Kisses,” in a book which he put down and was never able to locate again among his stacks and stacks of books  He attributed it to a Roman Philosopher, but wasn’t sure which one. The phrase and the concept stuck with him, and, apparently, with his wife, Denny, too, and a couple of years later on Christmas morning Jack found she had “laid out 18 pieces of wooden type – each piece ¾ of an inch thick and one inch tall, backwards, of course, the words being in reverse order and each letter backwards, in the way of moveable type. The type face still bore the stain of the ink used to print out the message on a long piece of coarse linen, which was also laid out on the couch -  “Spend All Your Kisses.” He was beyond delighted.

Jack Smith went on to conjecture about the fact that “there is no point in taking any of one’s wealth into the next world. Why keep a kiss, a gesture, a word that might give a moment’s pleasure or reassurance to someone else.” He finished, “there is little chance, that I will get out of this world with money…and now, thanks to my wife, to an ancient poet and my ability to read backwards – I am not likely to get out with any unspent kisses, either.”

All of which makes me think of Philippians 4:8…

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I think Jesus spent all His kisses, spent all His love, spent all He had. We know He gave everything for us, including His very life. Let’s all spend all of our kisses and love, too, especially if you can find a four year old who is positive unicorns are real and loves knock-knock jokes. Or a seven year old with blonde ponytails and a passion for Monster High leggings and strawberries.