Ben Fields: So that was Christmas (Opinion)

Ben Fields

Ben Fields

Man, that Christmas came and went like a shot, eh?

Maybe it was because Thanksgiving was so late this year, or my family just had so much going on over the past month (our lab-terrier mix, Trevor, went to doggie heaven after 14 years of being the absolute best dog we ever had, there was a death on my wife’s side of the family, we dealt with some health scares and, oh, we welcomed a child into our home as foster parents. So we’ve been taking that moment by moment, and our son has been adjusting to sharing the center of the universe around which everything revolves).

I was barely into the proper spirit, and it was over. Things have come and gone so fast I didn’t have the spare time or brain space to get “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” stuck in my head even once. (Of course, now it’s in yours. Don’t say I didn’t get you anything.)

All of that happening, especially over Christmas, has once again taught me how fleeting every moment really is, and how, no matter how well we’ve defined our patterns in life, they can be yanked out and rearranged in a blink. Sometimes, we can have so many life-changing moments over such a short span of time that we don’t even know how we feel about all of it until much later.

I had a little time to cry about the dog. That was about it. My wife and I used to ask each other all the time what we did before we had our son. What did we worry about? What did we enjoy? How did we fill all of that time? Now, I’m wondering what we did with all the time we had up until recently. There is only what is on the schedule and what is going to pop up and be added to the schedule.

There’s really no time to be upset, afraid or worried about much. Literally, there is no time. It is all about what is in the moment and what comes next. Emotion tends to pour out only after one thing ends or reaches a pausing point. It’s a roller coaster, and it’s nuts and, at the same time, it’s great. All of this living in such a short span of time — is this what driven, successful people feel like? If you’re driven and successful, write in and let me know.


Speaking of Christmas music, I didn’t get a chance to revisit one of my favorites this year. It probably was playing over the speakers at Lowe’s or Target or someplace while I was there, but it didn’t register.

I love the David Bowie-Bing Crosby team-up on “Little Drummer Boy.” I don’t necessarily like the song, or how they sing it. I just love the idea of Bowie, strung out and all “Rebel, Rebel” or “Diamond Dogs,” wandering onto a television set decorated like a living room to meet a humbug but still docile Crosby, who probably asked production assistants a thousand times, “Is it BOH-ee, or BOO-ee? Where is this guy from? Ziggy played what?”

It’s contrived and weird, which is what Christmas can be for a lot of people, but it works out. You put two people in a room together, and they usually get along — especially if they’re being filmed.


Going back to the dog, I just want to take a sec and thank the folks at Valley West for how they handled the whole thing and helped me through it.

Trevor came to our home as a Valentine’s present for my wife. He was actually in a gift bag, poking his little head out. A rotund, little blonde furball, we were told he was going to be a lab. Then he grew eyebrows and a beard.

He got up to 60 pounds, but was the gentlest, honestly best-behaved dog we’ve ever known. We’ve had dogs that thought they were human. We’ve had dogs that thought they were Tazmanian devils. Trevor never thought he was anything but a dog. He barked at cats, even though he lived with one for most of his life. He thought with his stomach. And he absolutely adored anyone who would scratch his belly or his ears.

When I got home from work, he would excitedly pummel me, sometimes knocking me down. He did this wonderful thing where he would sit at rigid, intense attention, behind my wife. He would let out a single, sharp bark that reverberated through the house, and my wife would let out a scream and literally jump off the ground because, no matter how many times he did it, she was never ready for it. He was simply letting her know he wanted food. It was never anything complicated with Trevor.

My wife knew about the decision we were going to have to make at the vet’s. She had actually taken some time to sit with him and tell him what a good boy he had been, because she had a feeling that, whatever was wrong, it was bad. Our son took the news hard. And I blubbered like a child in a room at the veterinarian. He was a good boy.

So, that was Christmas. How’s by you?

Ben Fields is the Gazette-Mail opinion editor. Reach him at 304-348-5129, or follow

@BenFieldsWV on Twitter.

Funerals for Monday, February 17, 2020

Batten, Richard - 2 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Cook, Dorothy - 1 p.m., Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Beckley.

Dickenson, Cosette - 11 a.m., Redeemer Lutheran Church, Charleston.

Hamilton, Stephanie - 7 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

McComas Jr., Oscar - 1 p.m., Lewis Memorial Baptist Church.

Mullenax, Claude - 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Triolo, Angela - 11 a.m., St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Logan.

Van Camp Sr., Danny - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Wilson, William - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay.

Withers, Rosa - 1 p.m., Wilcoxen Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Yoak, Norma - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Grantsville.