Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas Eve story from 2015

This is from Christmas Eve 2015:
Those of you who know me... know that I am not a what would be described as an overly religious person; that's not a disclaimer, but a fact. 
I went to a Catholic elementary school (Our Lady of Loretto in Brooklyn), but my family was also not religious at all. 
For 2015, we wanted to get Anderson an outdoor basketball hoop. As there are dozens of them around our neighborhood, we asked our neighbors if anyone wanted to pass one on, and one of our generous neighbors did. 
"We actually inherited the hoop from another neighbor," they said, "And our kids have moved on." 
As the hoop was going to be a Christmas present from Santa, and in order to sneak it into our yard at the last possible minute, last night, around 8PM, I trekked to their house, about a quarter of a mile away, preparing to drag the hoop over to our house. 
I vastly under estimated the weight of the hoop (pole, base and backboard), which has small wheels at the front of its base to allow for relocation movement, but clearly not designed to be dragged by one man for that long of a distance. 
About five minutes into the ordeal, and already soaked in sweat and breathing heavily, as I passed one of the light poles on the street heading to our street, I was startled by my own shadow. 
My shadow, stooped over and carrying the heavy basketball hoop, with the backboard on my shoulders and the pole dragging behind me, startled me because it looked exactly like a man carrying a cross. 
"I wonder what any neighbor who sees this from their house would think," I thought. In the dark of the night, with just some peripheral light from the light poles, it would be easy to confuse me with some zealous penitent carrying a cross. 
I struggled on, my shoulders really aching now, and my sweat pouring from my brow, and my baseball cap being crushed into my eyes by the backboard, so that I had to stop and take my glasses off, and re-adjust the red Nats cap.. 
As I stopped and lost the momentum, and I was on a slight uphill, it became really hard to get the hoop going again. 
"What I need now is a Simon to help me," I thought. The "Simon" being Simon of Cyrene, of course... the man who according to the Bible helped The Christ to carry the cross. 
Almost immediately a tall, gangly, dark-haired young man stepped out of the shadows, his hair full of tight black curls. 
"Sir," he said, "Can I help you carry that?" 
"Thank you!" I almost shouted as he put his shoulder to the backboard and together we trudged along; the task a lot easier now. 
"I really appreciate it," I told him as we carried the hoop side by side. "This is for my son," I explained. "Do you live around here?" 
He told me that he was a visitor, and was visiting his girlfriend, who lived in our neighborhood. 
We carried the hoop to our cul-de-sac, placed it in the right spot, and shook hands. 
"Thank you a million times," I said to him. "My name is Lenny, Merry Christmas." 
"My name is Simon," he responded as he walked away into the shadows..."Merry Christmas." 
I walked back into my house, soaked in sweat and breathing heavily, and then, and only then, it dawned on me.