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Follow the Yellow Brick Appreciation

The past seven days have truly tested my patience, stress, and gratefulness. To steal shamelessly from the Grateful Dead; What a Long Strange Trip It's Been.”

I was exercising my typical man’s prerogative, on thanksgiving night, when I sat down to watch the traditional evening football game. I had forgotten that the game had been moved to another night due to COVID-19 exposures to members of one of the teams. So, taking control of the remote control, another of those typical man’s prerogatives, I began searching for a suitable alternative to watch. You see, it had been a really strange and difficult last 24 hours and quite frankly my only true desire was to crash in front of the TV and do nothing else.

Well, as I surfed the channel guide, I saw an old favorite; The Wizard of Oz. A lot of people see this movie as a happy little fairy tell caused by a tornado, with strange people, strange figures, and some bad guys and gals as well; a typical action adventure for a move filmed in 1939. These people have a hard time understanding why this movie seems to be shown on every feel-good holiday, but after what my wife and I experienced the previous 24 hours, it became as apparent as ever why this movie was shown on Thanksgiving night.

I admit did not watch the movie but perhaps I should have even though I’ve seen it a hundred times. I continued to channel surf but most of what I saw was Presidential election fallout with many of the pundits taxing their brains to nearly shout their opinions about what was wrong with this or that, or who wouldn’t do this or that, and how big a problem or how much trouble this all was. I honestly have to wonder sometimes if these people, whom seem to only spout anger, displeasure, criticism, and discontent, really have a brain. In my frustration with all the negatives on TV, a lightbulb went off – I instantly thought of the Scarecrow’s response when Dorothy asked him how he could talk if he didn’t have a brain: I don’t know. But, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?”

As I reflect on this past week, it has felt like we were Dorothy in the movie. Because of Covid and all the challenges around our entire family trying to stay safe, we were really looking forward to everyone getting together at our house for Thanksgiving. Our families had been staying safe and socially distanced, with their masks, and we were really looking forward to the four family’s; seventeen moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and nephews and nieces, coming together. Did I say we were really looking forward to this???

We ordered about $300 worth a food from a local Smokehouse, a really great place by the way, because we were hosting this get together at our new house, instead of the usual much bigger house, and our kitchen is far too small for all of us to try to cook. The house was decorated, the food was ordered, all had RSVP’d, and everything was set – we were really looking forward to this 😊. Then we saw the twister-cyclone approaching-figuratively. At about 5:00pm on Wednesday, just hours before Thanksgiving, we were informed our Grandson had been working in close contact with a co-worker who had tested positive for COVID-19…AND…my wife I had hugged and shook this grandson’s hand, as we always do, just three days prior at church. I’m sure there are a lot of people that would say so-what, but we have people in our family who have health conditions that would not mix well with this virus, and all I could think was the Covid gods saying: “I’ll get you my little pretty!”.

This started a world wind of activity, as the Professor said in the movie, after Dorothy started to run back to the farm: “there's a storm blowing up -- a whopper…” We called each family and told them what had happened. We asked each family what they wanted to do – do we all still get together or not? We also had to discuss do we cancel the food or not? Let’s not forget that we still had to process the realization that at least two family members, with compromised health, may have now been exposed to Covid. I thought about the Cowardly Lion; handling all of this last second pressure would require courage. “Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What have they got that I ain’t got …courage !” After all was said and done, the tears and anger, and the numerous calls and conversations were had, I made the tough decision to cancel thanksgiving, at least for our family.

We decided not to cancel the food order as that seemed grossly unfair to the Smokehouse. So we picked it up as planned, took it back home and separated the whole, piping hot, ham, turkey, pulled pork, and six sides items, at five pounds per side, as well as four pies, the gravy, and the cranberry sauce. You should have seen my poor wife and I slicing and separating all of this in our very small kitchen. When my wife, like Dorothy, asked me, if I were frightened about the prospect of having Covid and doing all this work, I responded as the Wizard of Oz did: “Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe………I was petrified.”

He packed up all the food, loaded it into my wife’s car, drove to the other three homes, and delivered to the entire family. We then went back home, ate our own dinner, and called it a day, but still so very disappointed that we could not all be together…and…there was still this matter of did any of us get Covid? The quality of the food got rave reviews and the family was very happy. So, crisis was averted, even though it just didn’t feel like Thanksgiving, at least each family got to enjoy their mini celebrations in their homes. I thought, we had a monumental challenge and that we didn’t think we had the power to handle it all, but I was then reminded of Glinda talking to Dorothy near the end of the movie when she said: “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.

Just a few days later, and just as the disappointment of Thanksgiving was subsiding, it snowed for the first time this 2020 late fall-early winter. Quite honestly, I don’t complain about snow nearly as much as most, because it is just another example of God’s beautiful creation. However, I must admit, that I am right there with most of you when it comes to the cold, usually associated with the snow, I don’t like it, and thus am not anxious to start the winter weather season of battling such temperatures. Perhaps these troubles had worn us out and caused us to fall asleep in the field of poppies…so… why, on top of these last challenging hours, did GGAAAALLEENNDDAA send the snow? This is a “wicked” reference for those who have not seen the play – P.S. I highly recommend it…we’ve seen it twice and would go again!!!

They say bad things come in threes; was this why Dorothy had three companions on her journey; the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion – but they weren’t really bad companions??? Well, to top it off, day three was the day after the snow, and it was my wife’s and mine forty first wedding anniversary. We normally would have taken a special small trip or made some special night-out plans, but don’t forget this Covid cloud hovering over – we were in quarantine so we’re not going anywhere. However, as frustrating as Covid has been, it did bring my wife and I even closer together now that I am home, not travelling, and not at work. So in many ways, this pandemic, has had some real positives. So even though we could not go anywhere and do anything, we had each other and we were together, and I truly love spending time with my wife – I genuinely do!!!

So, like the wicked witch of the west gazing through the looking glass, I reflect on this past week, and I know that many people and families have had a far worse road to travel, so I am still so very appreciative of what we do have. But for our family, this was a very trying week. I NOW honestly understand why the Wizard of Oz is a perfect Thanksgiving movie, and, believe it or not, I have nothing but appreciation for all of these occurrences. The twister came with the shocking Covid news. We tackled handling all that food as our house was spinning around in the cyclone. We landed in a beautiful place when all the food was delivered and all families were happy. We ran into some bumps on the yellow brick road with the snow and the quarantine. We battled the wicked witch with the worry and stress of possibly contracting the virus, and when it all concluded; “I’m melting – I’m melting”, we were home together. As Dorothy said at the conclusion of the film; “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!” “There’s no place like home!”.

So you see, sometimes it takes a horrible storm, a spinning house, a yellow brick road, some odd characters missing vital organs and character traits, a professor that becomes a wizard and then transforms back into a professor, a good witch and a bad witch, a horse of a different color, and a fiery broom, and a bucket of water, to truly realize and appreciate what you have.

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