Two years ago on stage, I played Bob Cratchit, that kind-hearted soul who unexpectedly receives a turkey for his family at the end of “A Christmas Carol.”
A few days ago on Christmas Eve, I found myself wondering if I’d revived the role.
“This is from a friend,” the masked man at the doorstep said, passing over a King Soopers bag and a Christmas card. The bag contained a holiday turkey, ready for the fridge that night and the oven tomorrow. The card contained a short message of holiday cheer, and a simple signature: “Santa.”
I called Heather over. We both looked at it, amazed.
The funniest problem of the day had just been solved.
We’d been laughing and shaking our heads about it just that morning. On the Night Before The Night Before Christmas, our ward Missy the Great had decided that yes, she actually did want a “fancy” Christmas dinner even though we weren’t going anywhere or seeing anyone – or maybe even because of it. So Heather put together a grocery list of stuff to be delivered on the morning of the 24th, including a ham for the main dish.
The groceries arrived and the ham with it – sort of.
What arrived was sliced ham. The sort that you use for lunch meat.
“Well,” Heather said after we’d spent enough time being flabbergasted, “I suppose we can always do sandwiches.”
It was one more verse in the Coronavirus Anthem, a glitch in the universe that you had to either laugh at or go crazy. (Well, crazier.) And so we settled into our day, telling the story in amused disbelief to a few friends and relatives, and otherwise moving on.
At least, until the knock at the door came.
I still don’t know if one of our listeners decided to quietly lend a hand, or if an already-existing good intention just happened to “click” with the universe. The latter may sound unlikely, but again, this is 2020.
And good neighbors have also been a verse in the Coronavirus Anthem.
It’s easy to forget. We hear a lot about conflict and division these days, and not without reason. There are stark challenges ahead for our country and the world, and people have strongly-held views about how to meet them. Even when everyone’s “playing nice,” that’s a recipe for struggle. And when my oft-quoted Paul Simon verse comes into play – “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” – it can become downright disastrous.
But there’s more to us than that.
And it’s what will finally carry us through.
There have been jokes online about how this isn’t the apocalypse that “Mad Max” movies told us to expect, where grimy violent heroes with a deep stockpile of ammunition will win the day. If anything, this is the sort of disaster that the Far West has weathered for generations … the sort where you get through by looking out for your neighbor, in big ways and small.
It’s been true in floods. In blizzards. In high wind and deadly drought. You think about what you can do for the people around you, whether it’s wielding a snow shovel, a mask, or a bit of hope.
And together we overcome what we could never survive alone.
This turkey isn’t the first bit of hope and love that’s arrived at our doorstep from a thoughtful heart. But it’s the latest confirmation that we’re not alone in this. And as we head into 2021, it’s one more thing that makes me hope a little harder.
No, things won’t magically transform on January 1. But it can be one more step on the road to somewhere better. As long as we walk that road together in heart, even when separated in body.
A new year’s waiting. It’s time to open the door and see what waits.
May it be a real turkey – in the best sense of the word.