75: A Dangerous Mission

75: A Dangerous Mission

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

A Dangerous Mission

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

~Albert Einstein

“Any ideas?” my husband Jeff asked as we walked around a mall several weeks before Christmas.

“No. Everything looks so boring,” I complained. “We already bought the small stuff. We need something big.” The truth was our sons were both grown men with wives and homes of their own. I’d always found men difficult to buy for and this year was no exception.

“I’ve got an idea,” I offered. “I’ll shop for the girls if you take care of the boys.” Sounded easy enough to me. Mentally, I went through the list of things I could get for our daughters-in-law. No problem.

“Nothing doing. We’re in this together,” Jeff reminded me. We trudged on. And on. And went home with nothing once again.

“Are we really stuck with gift cards for our own kids?” I asked feeling defeated as we dressed for our next shopping trip.

“No. We’ll find something. Let’s go.” We bundled ourselves up and headed out for yet another shopping experience. I was so distracted by our lack of a big present for each of our sons that I didn’t even want to hear Christmas music.

We entered the sporting goods department and I saw a smile on Jeff’s face. “I’ve got it,” he exclaimed. I followed him as he headed over to the freestanding, outdoor basketball hoops. Yes! This would work. We still had a basketball hoop on our garage and they still played when they visited. Neither of them had yet put one up at their own homes. We were sure we’d found the right gift.

“Do you think they’ll fit in the car?” I asked, looking at the large boxes and thinking of our Hyundai.

“Sure. The trunk’s big and the back seat goes down. No problem.”

We hauled the large, heavy boxes onto a wagon, took several minutes to catch our breath and feel our limbs again, and headed for the checkout.

Did the boxes fit? No way. One lay nice and flat. The other would lie on top but only the wrong way with the end sticking out.

“We could tie it down,” I suggested.

“Nothing to tie it with.”

I glanced at the store we’d just left. Naturally, they’d have something to tie down a trunk but Jeff’s mind was working on some other solution.

“I’ve got it. I’ll put the second box on top of the first and I’ll lie on top of the two of them. They won’t move with the extra weight on top. I can hold on to the passenger seat until we get home.”

‘We’ve got a big hill to go up,” I reminded him. “Why don’t we just leave one here and come back and get it?”

“This will work,” he said with determination.

So, with me driving and Jeff lying across the boxes and holding onto the back of the seat, we began our trip home. At five miles an hour, it was a long trip.

“I’m slipping,” he yelled. I pulled over immediately. Relieved drivers raced past us.

“You’re going to get hurt,” I stated again.

“No, I’m not. We’re almost there. We can’t give up now. All right. I can feel my arms again.” He got back into the same position. “Throw that blanket over my hands. They’re freezing.” At last, we were ready to move on.

“The top box is sliding.” Once again, I pulled over. We rearranged the boxes. Then, looming ahead was one of the largest hills in the area. And we lived at the top of it. The only other option was to go through a lot of traffic and spend at least twice as long on the road. We had to get up the hill. There was no choice.

I turned the corner slowly, hearing the boxes shift. “Should I stop?” I yelled back.”

“No. Keep going. If we stop again I don’t think I’ll be able to get back on here. I’m freezing and my shoulders are about to dislocate.”

Then, we started laughing. It was stupid but it was funny. Picture a retired schoolteacher lying on two huge boxes in the back of a small car, the edges of the boxes and his feet sticking out, the door to the hatch back flopping up and down and him holding on to the front seat for dear life while I drove slowly enough for turtles to pass.

At last, we did make it home. It was the most dangerous trip to get presents we’d ever experienced. I’d like to say it was the last one but we now have two grandsons and I’m afraid of what may come next. Ah, Christmas memories.

~Jane Lonnqvist

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