Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Archived Columns - October, 2010

How Not to Share Your Turkey Dinner

Since you’re cooking that turkey anyway, why don’t we invite somebody over?” my hospitable hubby asked as he saw me wrestling the giant bird into the roaster. It was Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.
Sure,” I said. “Call around and see who can come on short notice.”
He did, and soon we were expecting our friends Pat and Claudette for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. As the afternoon wore on, it dawned on me that I could only smell the faintest hint of turkey. Shouldn’t there be a wonderful aroma wafting out the windows by now? I opened the oven. It was almost cold, the turkey barely half cooked.
Hubby checked it out. “Looks like the element is shot,” he said.
Now what? Can’t get a repair guy on Saturday. Borrow a neighbour’s oven? Haul it over to my sister’s? Move the party to Pat and Claudette’s?
Why don’t you cook it on the barbecue?” our son suggested as he headed out the door in search of a more interesting environment.
Hey, that’s not a bad idea,” I thought. I lit the barbecue and loaded the turkey, roasting pan and all, inside. It just fit. I went back inside to peel potatoes.
When Pat and Claudette arrived, Hubby went out to check on the turkey. It should be done by now. It would have been too, had the wind not blown the barbecue out.
The guys moved the barbecue around to the sheltered side of the house and re-lit it. We'd just have to wait.
Next time we checked on the turkey, our propane tank had run dry. The turkey was far from cooked and we were all getting really hungry. Besides, the potatoes, vegetables, and stove-top stuffing were ready!
Claudette got an idea. “We’ve got all the trimmings. Why don’t you boys go pick up one of those rotisserie chickens from the Co-op?”
While they were gone, Claudette made a salad and I made gravy from the little juice the turkey had produced. Just when we were expecting the guys to walk in the door, they called.
Co-op was out of chickens, so we tried Sobeys. They’re out, too. What do you want us to do?”
Fifteen minutes later, the boys came back with a bucket of KFC and we sat down to chicken with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, our original bird continued cooking outside with the propane the boys had brought back. By the time Pat and Claudette said good-bye that evening, the turkey was mouthwatering. That is, our mouths would have been watering had our tummies not already been stuffed.
We ate turkey leftovers, with thankful hearts, for a very long time. 

Crime and Compassion

     My three year old grandson's toy lawn mower went missing from his backyard recently. It's a pretty spiffy lawn mower, too--it blows bubbles as you push it along. I can see why it would be a highly desired item. His parents had a fairly good idea who might have helped themselves. But, with no way to prove anything, the biggest task at hand was how to explain to a three-year-old why his lawn mower was no longer there. They were understandably angry and sad. They wanted justice.
      Meanwhile, my husband was the victim of the second auto theft attempt in less than a year, the first of which succeeded. He was understandably angry and sad. He wanted justice.
Evil things happen. Deliberate things. How are we to respond?
      You may have heard the phrase “Seek Justice; Love Mercy.” It's from the Bible, but what on earth might that look like? It's natural to seek justice when we are the victims. Of course we love mercy when we are at fault. But the other way around? Have mercy!
      In the end, my grandson got his lawn mower back and insurance covered the loss-if not the inconvenience-of our truck mess. Meanwhile, the thieves, as we say, “got away with it.”
      Did they really? Although they have not officially paid for their crime (and I'm not saying they shouldn't), would any of us want to trade places with them? Would you want to have had their childhood? To go through life with no conscience seems to me the worst sort of punishment, for you could never know the thrill of doing right just for the sake of doing right. You'd never experience the satisfaction of self control or the reward of earning the things you call your own. I doubt you would even be able to fully appreciate a gift freely given.
      One thing is certain. In every event of a child's life, he is going to learn something. As a parent, it is up to you to figure out what you hope he learns and how you can help steer him in that direction. I told my grandson how thankful I was that he has a good mommy and daddy to teach him right from wrong. Clearly, the children who stole his lawn mower were not as fortunate. They need our prayers. Yes, it's okay to be angry and sad. We need to experience those feelings and grieve our losses. To gloss over them is a huge disservice to children. But to teach revenge and grudge-holding is like feeding your child poison hoping the guilty party will die. Instead, when all the emotion boils down, if we can somehow bring it around to compassion, we will be the victors in the end. And the world will be a better place for it.

Ziggy 'Fesses Up
Last winter, I rose to the challenge of entering an “acrostic” story contest. That is, a story comprised of 26 sentences, each beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. With our upcoming Municipal elections, I chose to write about small town political shenanigans. I have since been educated about how meticulously each and every ballot is accounted for, and I realize my story could never happen. The judges liked it anyway, granting it first place. I hope you enjoy it, too.

      Adored by many, His Worship Mayor Zigfried Johnson stepped to the podium to address the citizens of Quincy one final time.
      “Before my 25-year career as your mayor draws to a close,” he said, “I have something I must tell you. Confession is never easy, but it is good for the soul. Disclosures of this nature are uncommon from a man in my position, and I sincerely hope this will not result in your becoming cynical toward my successor. Even I voted for him, and I am confident he would never stoop to the type of behaviour which I am about to divulge.”
      Five hundred voters held their breath, awaiting the mayor’s next words. George Xander, although voted in by an overwhelming majority this time, would never be as loved or trusted as Mayor Johnson had been. He had, after all, run against Johnson in every election held since they were college boys together and had lost every one. If not for Zigfried’s voluntary retirement, a new mayor would not even have been considered by the good people of Quincy. Just what was their beloved leader about to share? Kay Johnson, his wife of 49 years, stood by his side looking adoringly up at her Ziggy, assuring her fellow citizens that his revelation would not be of a licentious nature.
“Let me begin by taking you back to that Election Day 25 years ago,” the mayor continued. “Maybe you remember that I won by only one vote that first time. Never one to settle for such a close count, my worthy opponent here, Mr. Xander, demanded a recount. Of course, the election officials complied.”
“Perhaps it was fate, perhaps it was something else,” the Mayor continued. “Quincy residents may remember the near tornado conditions that prevailed that day, but what you probably don’t know is that as the votes were being recounted, an assistant opened a window, causing ballots to go flying around the Council Chambers. Results were delayed, but after all the ballots were gathered up and counted yet again, it was confirmed that I had indeed won by one vote.”
      “Six months later, while moving the heavy oak table in the Council Chambers, what did I discover but four uncounted ballots wedged inside a drawer in the table. Three of them were votes for my opponent, George Xander. Unless there were still more uncounted ballots hidden somewhere, George, not I, had actually won the election by one vote. Vigilantly, I searched the room for more lost ballots to no avail, then discreetly shredded the four I’d found and remained your mayor for the next 25 years.”
      With tears in his eyes, the Mayor removed the chain of office from around his own neck and placed it around his successor’s. Xander humbly received the adornment and stepped up to the microphone.
      “You are forgiven, my friend,” His Worship Mayor George Xander said, silently recalling the windy day he’d stood outside that Council Chamber window enjoying a cigarette, when two ballots had come floating his way—both votes for Johnson, and both quickly stuffed deeply into his own pocket.
      Ziggy Johnson smiled and sighed, a 25-year weight off his weary shoulders at last.


    The spookiest event of my life did not occur at Halloween. Let me take you way back before the turn of the century.
     It’s Christmas vacation, 1976. I’m a 17 year-old girl driving 500 miles home to Manitoba. I load my Dodge Dart and take off immediately after my last class, planning to drive halfway and spend the night with family friends.
     It’s dark by the time I start looking for the turnoff that will take me to their farm. I turn left onto a gravel road and soon realize my mistake. This is not a road at all, but a driveway leading to an abandoned looking house. Better get back on the highway. I put the car into reverse and drive straight back, forgetting the driveway had taken a sharp turn. Ka-chunk! My car will go neither forward nor backward. I am hung up on railroad tracks. In the middle of nowhere. With no phone. On a freezing night. I see a headlight coming toward me. A train?
     I decide there is no point in doing nothing. I look down that daunting driveway. Is that glimmer of light coming from a window of the shabby old house? I walk toward it, praying with every step. I hear dogs barking. Large dogs. I pray harder. And louder. My heart is thumping faster than my footsteps. The dogs gather round me, barking and growling as I knock on the door.
     No answer.
     I knock harder. Finally, a young child opens the door and I step inside.
     “Is your mommy or daddy home?”
     While I wait, I look around. The scene before my eyes is one of the most disturbing I have ever witnessed. Every surface is littered with stuff. I swear I see the grime on the walls and floor moving in the dim light of the bare bulb. Through the living room door, I see children clad in dirty pajamas, watching TV. An ominous string of colored lights blinks at me from a skinny Christmas tree.
     While one of the kids goes upstairs to rouse an adult, I find a phone between a carton of sour milk and a soiled diaper. I describe my location to my friends so the police will know where to start looking for my body.
A man comes downstairs, tucking in a grungy shirt while he lights a cigarette and yells at the dogs. We head outside together. I understand the foolishness of a young girl getting into a stranger’s car, but I have asked for God’s help and have no choice but to believe he has provided it.
     We drive in the man's car to mine, where he assesses the situation. I don’t know how he accomplishes it, but he frees my car from the tracks. He refuses the twenty I offer in gratitude and I’m on my way again, breathing thankful prayers all the way to the right farmhouse.
     There, I’m greeted by friendly faces, a hot bath, and clean sheets.
     I fall asleep pondering how sometimes angels come very cleverly disguised indeed.