December 19, 2014

Santanticipation

Santanticipation 
By John R. Greenwood

A simple December scene plays out across the world. A tender moment captured with the wink of an eye. A child’s bravery tested within reach of his mother’s protective arms. Santa has arrived in full regalia, smiling, laughing, larger than life itself. A child sees through Santa’s glow a sleigh brimmed with toys wrapped in reds and greens and topped with silver bows. His world condensed into one short moment, one tall man with a beard and a hearty tone. Tis’ the season built for the joy of child-gifts and grownup hopes, for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. 

Santanticipation is a wonder we carry through life. It’s an ageless feeling about never letting go of the what-ifs or the if-only’s. One small boy reminded me of that feeling at this pre-Christmas breakfast with Santa generously hosted by the Saratoga Knights of Columbus. 

To all who find themselves here I thank you for your friendship and readership, your supportive comments and faithful visits. This blog was a gift to myself several years ago. It’s a place to give and receive gifts of words. Priceless gifts that provide comfort and joy-- hopefully in two directions. 

So gather up your Santanticipation and fill your sleigh, I see snowflakes falling outside the picture window. 

I guess it’s time...




December 13, 2014

Miracles?

Miracles?
By John R. Greenwood


Do you believe in Miracles?

I do. 

Last night after the snowplows had made their last swipe through the neighborhood; after the budget conscious homes had shut off their neatly hung Christmas lights; after the late news had taken one more swing at scaring Aunt Thelma into thinking she might run out of bread and milk; after the alarm clock was set and my head dropped to the pillow like a bowling ball; I finally dozed off. 

Long after midnight I awoke to the sound of jingle bells. They were barely audible but their identity was unmistakable. My first reaction wasn’t one of questioning the source but more simply; “Why is Santa here two weeks early?” I threw back the quilt, swung my legs around, and pulled back the curtain. It was snowing those big heavy kleenex size flakes that are so heavy you can hear them dropping on the hood of the car. The motion-light on the side of the garage was on and illuminating the yard like a broadway stage. I could still hear the bells but they were fading high in the snow-filled air. 

Then I looked down.

There in the blanketed yard next to the garage was a set of sleigh-width parallel lines, large V-shaped tracks and a huge four-foot long set of antlers. Now, I’ve run across some pretty unbelievable things in my life, but this took my breath away. Here I was a splinter away from ancient and I’d just had my closest Santa encounter ever. The funny part is I didn’t feel all that surprised about almost seeing Santa and a reindeer, I was more consumed by why he stopped by so early? Was he doing a test run? Maybe Mrs. Claus ran out of milk? My mind went in one-hundred directions until I remembered one thing; there was a set of reindeer antlers in my yard as proof that Santa really does exist! I needed to get out there grab the antlers and get a picture of the sleigh and reindeer tracks just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. 

I yanked on my pants and grabbed a sweatshirt from the hook on the back of the door. As I bent over to pick up my boots I lost my balance and fell headlong into the closet smashing my head on the door casing. I went out like I’d just taken a Mike Tyson shot to the chin. I ended up in a heap like a coiled lab in front of a warm stove. 

The next thing I remember is waking up to my wife gently shaking my shoulder saying, “John, are you okay? You fell and hit your head. What happened?” 

I shook out the cobwebs, looked around to make sure Mike was gone and climbed back up to the edge of the bed. I don’t know how long I was out but there was no blood and no bump. My head didn’t hurt one bit. It was very strange. My wife looked at me like she usually does when I tell her, "I have an idea!” She had that, “Now what?” look. As I began to tell her about the bells and the tracks I realized I hadn’t gotten the pictures or the proof yet! I slid into my all-weather slippers and ran to the door like a kid running down the hall Christmas morning. I didn’t have a second to waste so instead of getting my camera from the other room I just grabbed my phone from the table in the hall. “I’ll just use this.", I muttered to myself.

I burst out the back door and my jaw dropped. 

There must have been another half-foot of snow on the ground since my semi-Santa sighting. The tracks were all gone. There wasn’t even an indentation in the snow. I stood there with slumped shoulders and snow-filled slippers. I looked up at the backdoor to see my wife shake her head, turn around and walk back into the darkness. 

But wait!

There poking out from snow at the edge of the garage was the tiniest tip of an antler. I shuffled over to it, bent over and gently pulled on it. There in a backyard in northeast New York a kid with grey hair and a pounding heart pulled out the most majestic set of reindeer antlers you’ve ever seen. They had a golden hue and were the size of Texas. I've seen pictures of reindeer with beautiful antlers but none of them possessed the trophy-like quality of the ones I had in my hand. 

I snapped the picture below as undisputed proof that Santa Claus does exist and that he stopped by my backyard two weeks before Christmas. I Googled reindeer antlers and sure enough they do shed them every year. The strange part is they usually last until after Christmas. Just like me, Santa's reindeer must be having trouble keeping track of time. 

It's okay though because I might have missed this picture in February.

"Happy Holidays" everyone. 

May all 'your' Christmas miracles come true! 

December 09, 2014

The Wait

The Wait
By John R. Greenwood

It's a day off from work and I'm at a car dealership. I have a slow leak in a brand new tire they installed just weeks ago. I check my watch as I hand the tech my keys. How long could it possibly take to repair? I should know better than to ask that question. It will take as long as humanly possible. It will take one minute more than my patience or man-mind will permit.
 It will cost fifty dollars more than I've allowed for. 

That's the way my world works.

I sit down in the lobby among the shiny new 2015's as they tease me with that 'look at me' smirk on their grills. I ignore them and continue to type this piece. I wait for that unnerving voice to say "Mr. Greenwood, we have some bad news." The minute I complete the thought, I hear footsteps approaching with the clarity of a surgeon. 

Here it comes. 

"Mr. Greenwood, can I talk to you? We found the problem. It's not the tire, your tire is healthy and full of life. Your wheel needs a 'Fit Kit'".

And all this time I thought my wheels were fit as a fiddle.  

The story goes that the wheels of today with all their knowledge and ability to sensor low air pressure depend on one tiny robust 'O' ring to keep them fit. Therein lies the problem. My wheel's low air sensor 'O' ring was dry and in disrepair. It would require a ten-spot and another thirty minutes of patience. 

We'll see, we"ll see...

My gut is rarely outsmarted. Today was an exception. We'll call it a draw. In the end my wait was less than an hour---kids stuff in the auto repair stratosphere. The bill was less than fifty bucks. The repair is simple but the tire has to be removed and remounted. It's in a man's DNA to mistrust anyone but a blood relative when it comes to a car repair. We want a dirt cheap price with blue ribbon service. 
I guess when all was said and done it was a reasonable deal.

We take for granted the freedom todays vehicles provide us. They are moving apartments with all the same comforts: dual temperature zones, Dolby Surround Sound, electronic lumbar support. A few decades ago I was peddling milk in a vintage GMC stepvan who's heating system was a kerosene heater glowing like a nuclear reactor on the passenger side floor. Talk about "Driving Miss Crazy". 

In the end the visit to the dealership was speed bump and not a Pike's Peak Hill Climb. My heart and my tires were full and ready to tackle the days next challenge; finishing  the Christmas lights. 

Maybe I should have waited and had them change the oil?