Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: ‘Tis the Season

The Kenai Community Library has always been one of the stars in the crown of the community.

I pulled holiday duty this year. It happens every so often. Youngest Son works on the slope and has for nearly all his adult working life on various shifts: three and three; two on, two off and any of whatever iterations can be made of those weeks. He has probably worked more holidays than he has had off. When he was younger he would offer to work for someone who wanted to be home with the kids. These later years he has taken the luck of the draw. Some years he has either Thanksgiving or Christmas, some years both and some years neither. I understand luck of the draw, so here I am again, the second of my “holiday Sundays” (if we are going to count Halloween).

As you read this we will be driving home from a long weekend in Healy. For the first time for several years we had all four of the kids together with spouses and some granddaughters and greats. We see all the kids regularly, but seldom all together so this was a special occasion.

And I didn’t have to cook or at least not much. Made a couple of the old favorites that no one seems to remember how to throw together, but the big stuff was done by the “youngsters.” We played lots of board games, and talked and talked and for sure it was loud. Always is. But no politics, except whose turn it was to get the food out for the next round of eating. That sometimes dissolved into “I did it last time!” or “It’s not my job!” One thing for sure, siblings never age in their dynamics with each other. And the spouses just grin and bear it.

The granddaughters laughed at the “Boomers” and great-grandson languished in being the center of attention from relatives he seldom sees. Right now he is into birds, so we had lots of interesting 7-year-old conversations about the birds that come to the feeders at his house and “Boppa’s” (Number #1 Son). And of course, Christmas was mentioned a couple of times in passing.

The only downside of being away from the peninsula this weekend is that we missed the bazaars and Christmas Comes to Kenai and the fireworks but for sure we are returning to “politics” awaiting resolution in Kenai this week.

As many of you remember, I worked and volunteered at the Kenai Library for 25-plus years. Emily De Forrest was the director when I started and I have been channeling her since the October Kenai City Council meeting. The idea that someone wanted to censor the book purchase list and that the city council capitulated would have put her into a tirade.

Her approach to the library collection was pretty ecumenical: If someone brought her a book and said, “I just read this and it’s great. I think everyone should read it,” she would take it, give it a cursory examination and more often than not it would go onto the shelves. Some are still there; others outlived their trend and went the way of all things tired and worn. But they were shared.

If someone brought a book from the collection and said, “This is a horrible book and has terrible ideas. It should be removed immediately,” she would hand them a printed sheet and say, “There is a process.” Emily’s belief was that the library is here to disseminate all ideas, popular and unpopular. She was very aware of where she lived and was not about to wave a red flag in the face of community standards (well, not too often), but she was also very cognizant of our pluralistic population (and its fringes) and believed the library’s mission (maybe even its duty) was to have available material that anyone might need or want, no matter how controversial it may be. More than a few of her tirades served to ensure that mission was accomplished.

Emily would have been gratified, but not surprised, at the response of the community to the current situation. The Kenai Community Library has always been one of the stars in the crown of the community. Everyone on both sides of any argument knows the library is the one nonpartisan place they can go for a little respite from local politics as well as enlightenment about “the other side” if they seek it. Emily insisted on it, and the directors following her have all maintained that stance. Let’s hope the city council realizes it.

But, on a less strident note, the Kenai Senior Center is celebrating 50 years this week. From a trailer in Old Town to the Building on the Bluff is an interesting story. Come join in a celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 3 p.m. at the Senior Center.

And so, until the Second Day of Christmas, “God rest ye merry.” Enjoy the season.

Virginia can be contacted at vewalters@gci.net

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