I think if you take something for granted by kicking heads in a storm of white, don’t be surprised when it’s gone….forever!
With all of you living south of the border and celebrating Thanksgiving this today, I got to thinking that we often take for granted the things we are thankful for. The people in our life: loved ones, family, friends and those who leave comments on our facebook pages. We need to appreciate and cherish them now because eventually they may be beyond our reach. I think of my friends from school who I shared growing up with; back in the day, before the time of instant messengers, e-mails, cell phones and unlimited long-distance calling plans, we assumed that we would all be part of one another’s life forever, but whenever one of us left Grand Falls it was as if a huge iron door slammed shut with an echoing clang of finality. Friends became out of touch, and beyond reach. This was not something we intended to have happen. It was just that none of us knew that it would, until after it did. So don’t take the people in your life for granted.
We often take for granted the material things that make our life the way it is; such as our homes, beds, bottles of peanut butter, spaces on the internet or garden gnomes. The other night I was working on the computer (or maybe it was playing?) When suddenly down the hall there arose such a clatter, I knew Christmas was still over a month away so it couldn’t have been St. Nick. There, shattered on the floor, in the middle of the room was a flower pot my late grandmother had owned, and the bookshelf that held up my 1923 edition of the 20 volume “The Book of Knowledge”. The shelf had given way sending the pottery into flight. It had landed, in several dozen pieces all over my apartment floor. That pot had been there for ages, neglected and ignored, only used to hide things in whenever anyone dropped by for a surprise visit. Now it is gone. A pot can be replaced, but not a pot that was once my grandmother’s. That bookshelf came in handy too.
Finally, with the Holiday Season approaching, let’s not take our traditions for granted. The things we do for the holidays, the special meals, the visits, the funny paper hats we wear when we pop the poppers at the Christmas table. (What? It’s just my family that does that?) Take not your traditions for granted should they be lost for you. I can hear some of you saying,” Don’t be silly! We’ll never loose our traditions! Christmas will never be cancelled.” Oh right, and someone once said the Titanic would never sink. All I am saying is it could happen. After all, in Ottawa, on Parliament Hill, one is no longer allowed to wish another a Merry Christmas. Traditions can be lost.
Back in 1982 I first walked into Eastern Pentecostal Bible College as an 18 year old first-year student. I would soon learn of a special tradition that takes place in that building of theological learning each year; the Big Sister, Little Sister party. When a female first-year student arrived at the school she was secretly assigned a big sister and for the first month that big sister would encourage the little sister with secret letters of encouragement and gifts. Meanwhile, us new guys got picked on a lot and bore the brunt of many practical jokes as we struggled for survival in the jungles of the men’s dorm alone.
Back to the sisters; for the first month no one would know who their big sister was until the Big Sister, Little Sister party where all secrets would be revealed. This party was always held in the school’s auditorium with food, games, stuffed animals and pillows, and no guys were allowed. Now this had been a fun and enjoyable tradition that had been part of the experience of first year female students for a number of years previous, and it served a purpose of allowing the girls to bond, out of this annual party a second tradition grew that definitely involved the guys.
The morning of the party one of the second-year guys came to me all excited because tonight during the annual event would be the Big Sister, Little Sister Party Raid. The guys would storm the gym armed with pillows and attempt to snatch as many stuffed animals from the girls there. These captured animals, as tradition would have it, would be held captive in the guy’s dorm for about a week. Then during the open house of convocation week-end, the girls would go from room to room finding and rescuing their kidnapped animals of stuffing.
That night arrived and the party took place and, as was the tradition, the guys stormed the gym. It had happened that way traditionally for years. The girls were ready and waiting with their own pillows and the battle was furious. The girls knew we were coming; this was also part of the tradition. Several pillows exploded and visibility in the gym dropped to zero as a blizzard of feathers engulfed the auditorium, but the fight continued until the signal was given for the guys to retreat to the dorm with their pilfered animals. The annual tradition was fulfilled for another year as we guys ran for home.
Or at lest it should have been fulfilled, but one girl had to take the tradition for granted. She chose not to accept the tradition for what it was, a chance for some fun; the pillow fight and the kidnapping was meant to be enjoyed. She decided to ignore all that, take the tradition for granted, and use the opportunity to vent some hidden frustration towards men on one poor soul running for the safety of the dorm. He was out of the gym with a stuffed animal under his arm totally unaware that she was right on his heels. She grabbed at the creature from behind and jerked it back. His forward motion was halted as both he and her refused to loosen their grip on the single stuffed animal. I was running past them with a fluffy bunny tucked under my own arm, and spied the tug of war with the animal dangerously close to popping its threads and becoming unstuffed. I could have stopped to help the guy but the look of intense rage on the girl’s face scared me silly and I ran faster, abandoning my teammate to this maniacal woman. We would mourn his loss with a pizza.
I think the guy realized he should have let go of the toy but he was frozen in terror as she screamed words, so high pitched as to be unintelligible, in his face. So fearful was he that he could not unclench his fist even if he wanted. You can imagine his surprise and relief when she let go of the stuffed creature first, but that was only so she could better kick him. Her leg came up with a single intended purpose, to disable this guy with pain, intense agonizing pain.
I know, at this moment, all the guys reading this, are remembering a pain so intense, so agonizingly caused by a rising kick somewhere in your past. With that cringing memory you pity what this poor guy was about to experience, but once again you can imagine his surprise and relief when he realized she wasn’t aiming for his crotch. No, she was determined to kick this guy in the head!
This was not part of the tradition. Tradition had it that she was supposed to let him get away with the animal, and then collect it during open house a week later. The end of the pillow fight was to be the end of all hostilities. It is how it had always been. There was nothing in this tradition concerning pursuit and debilitating martial arts moves! Unfortunately, when the storm of feathers finally settled, a trip to the hospital emergency room had taken place. One more time, imagine this guy’s surprise and relief when it wasn’t him carried out the doors on the stretcher; it was her. In that span of time between where he realized her kick was aiming for his head and the time it took for her foot to reach his melon, reflex took over. He dodged just enough that her foot only glanced off his noggin instead of sending it soaring through the air like a soccer ball and splattering his brains over the cinder block wall. This desperate move of evasion caused her to fall off balance and with one foot nearly six feet in the air her other ankle twisted under her, nearly snapping in a terrible sprain.
One individual girl decided to take a tradition for granted and as a result we all ended up losing.
The next morning, during an assembly, as the Dean of Students announced that the tradition of the Big Sister, Little Sister pillow fight would no longer be continued in the years to come, a single solitary feather floated down from above, nearly landing on his balding head, as to remind all of a tradition now lost to us, forever.
Don’t take the things you are thankful for, for granted. Enjoy the people, the things and the traditions in your life to the best of your ability as never before. Don’t let them be lost.
And for those of you living in the USA don’t eat to much turkey or you could explode…seriously.
-Brad Locke- 11.29.05
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