“The Whole Nine Yards”

Dave Smith

Calico Nani purrrs on her perch and wee Tabby Taz cries for play time, a plea ignored for the moment by the queen of my house.  She gazes down, snugly smug atop this hemp spiraled, carpeted castle of respite.  Taz finds little time up there, denied presence by a swat or two or a quickly enforced tumble from a lower level.  Outside, a siren pierces the sunshine striping shadows across the yards, a warmth still welcome amidst the hope of a white Christmas.  Thanksgiving, too, lays but a shadow in the kitchen.  The “good china” still stacks the counter and waits storage.  The holly adorned plates come out next and then dust will settle on both for yet another year.  Turkey and stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes and gravy still scent the moment, bring a fresh burn to the candle of my 7 member family’s presence still embering in the chambers of my heart.  God blessed my Thursday, my Friday and today for that matter – going the distance to give me happiness and togetherness.  I cherish Rosie’s home for the day, laugh-til-she-red-faced-cried at Wren-egade’s tickling attack.  Home, warm and cozy, filled with God’s spirit wrapping us all.  He only touched 7 here, but 7 “yards” was more than enough to fill my soul well beyond expectations.

“The whole nine yards” existence in the USA, according to my google-eyed search, began in 1907.  The article noted the phrase wasn’t in wide circulation much before 1961. “In May 1961, the American athlete Ralph Boston broke the world long jump record with a jump of 27 feet 1/2 inch. No one had previously jumped 27 feet.” This was big news at the time, widely reported, and the effort “cried out for this headline: Boston Leaps the Whole Nine Yards.”  But, that never happened in reference to the airborne excellence.  Despite the theories, the most likely explanation, although frustrating, is that the ‘yards’ in the phrase isn’t a reference to any specific measurement. Yes, ‘yards’ appears merely as a synonym for ‘stuff’.  In my Thanksgiving use, that ‘stuff’-ing of 7 showed up in the cavity of my lonesome home, dressing it with appreciation and acknowledgement that a God above crosses all barriers to show and give me His grace and love.

With Nani’s drift to sleep, Taz gingerly claws quietly up to level 2 of 3, circles the square, curls, nuggles, and plops to slumber as well.  The top level, guarded with a protective 2 inch “wall” around the edges, reveals a steady breathe of fur and two ears – the dining area quiets to the hum of, well, just quiet.  My chair complains about my sit, squeaks an annoyance or two, and sun catchers the girls created bring yellows, blues, pinks, purples, and greens into a prismed focus.  Up the slope beyond the pines, a neighbor I have not met blows leaves, re-blows them as a breeze has its momentary way.  That’s a yard full of once crinkly, now damp and ready to dump blah.  I generated a few bags out front a week or so ago.  Did it the old school way, raking – then holding the bag between my bow legs with my heels and pulling the pile into the proper, village required clear container.

My family has returned to other stuff.  Back to college, back to home in East Troy, back to other family meals – a tangle of rush around included in the 9 yards of this season.  Too often this overshadows Christmas, making that great gift from God just a holiday, not a holy-day.  I know us of the Vernon family, we Christians, have and will always go “the whole nine yards” in remembering and celebrating with great thanksgiving and joy the yards we have received as children of God.  Forgiveness through grace if we but accept and believe – just 12 inches or so from head to heart.  Not even close to 29 feet and 1/2 inch.