Starting off the holidays with a bleeding shin was not my idea. But there you are.
I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, I have a lot of experience in living life as a slapstick comedy. Falling into the orchestra pit during a vocal solo? Done it. Slamming into doors and through water dishes while chasing a barfing dog? A classic.
But even by those standards, the Hidden Turkey of Thanksgiving Day has to be considered a standout.
It started innocently enough. A few days earlier, a relative texted some good news. Since Heather and I wouldn’t be getting out for Thanksgiving, he’d taken the liberty of ordering dinner for us. All we’d have to do on the day was pick it up at the grocery store.
So that morning, I got into Leroy Brown (our family Hyundai) and headed on over to pick up the feast. No line at the deli. This would be easy! I gave my name.
“I don’t see anything.”
Oh, of course. I gave the relative’s name.
“I’m sorry.” Customers were starting to gather. “Why don’t you come around the corner here while we look?”
OK. Sure. I hustled around the corner …
… right into the shin-high wire display shelf.
By a miracle of self –restraint, nothing came out of my mouth that would have earned a PG rating or higher.
“Oh my gosh … are you all right?”
“I think so,” came out through gritted teeth. My shin was on fire. No big deal. “Any luck?”
“Not yet. Do you have an order number?”
Multiple calls. Calls to relatives. More voice mail. I hadn’t searched this hard for a source since my reporting days. I certainly had never done it while staggering back and forth like the survivor of a Die Hard movie.
“Maybe I can just throw it together for you?” the kindly and worried clerk asked me.
“I don’t know what he ordered …”
Limp. Dial. Stagger. Limp. Dial. Wince. “Come on …”
Suddenly angels burst out singing!
OK, it was actually my cell phone. But the revelation might as well have been from on high. The original order had had a mistake. His wife had re-placed the order. HER name was the magic word we’d been looking for! Food finally collected, I headed for a checkout line that now extended into Larimer County, made my campsite …
…. and realized I’d forgotten the whipped cream.
Limp. Stagger. Wince.
Welcome to the holidays, right? We go in with ambitious aims, only to walk into (ouch!) one frustration after another, like a chain of Russian nesting dolls. At some point, we reach Charlie Brown levels of angst: why are we doing this again?
But here’s the thing. The food still got home. The feast still happened. Heck, by the time I found the whipped cream, the checkout line had melted like an early snow.
Hope still waited on the other side. And it still does now.
It’s not easy. Especially not these days. Hope calls on us to trust in something we can’t see yet, to work and labor for a distant aim. To not just believe in something, but to put our effort where our mouth is, even when the blows keep coming.
It’s ot the optimism of “It’ll work out.” But the sweat of “It starts with me.”
As we stagger into the holiday season, that’s a gift I hope we can all enjoy.
And if you want to add a pair of shin guards, I won’t blame you.