Friday, November 17, 2006

A Christmas to Remember Every Christmas

Filed under: Family,LDS,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 12:34 pm

It was one month past our first wedding anniversary and Christmas morning.  As struggling college students, we had spent our year together literally banking on the saying, “Two can live as cheaply as one,” and now that we had a new, one month old baby, we were hoping to stretch that to three.  While I was growing up my mom always used to say, “We’re so poor, we can’t pay attention.” Starting my own little family, we were that poor too.

Most couples had gone home for the holidays, or at least to relatives nearby, but being from Alaska, we made a Christmas for our little family in our apartment.  Having little to give others, we decided to give our Christmas dinner away to the only young couple we knew of who was poorer than we were. However, making this delivery anonymously was going to require planning, luck, and athleticism.  Their apartment was in a building where the front door opened into a long hallway. 

With my wife waiting outside in the getaway car, I carefully set the box of food in front of their door, knocked very loudly, then shot down the hall in a flat out run.  As I reached the stairs at the end of the hall, I heard their door open.  I knew my only chance to not be seen was to leap the entire flight of stairs, so I did a weird jump — crouched over so as to be as low as I could be as I took to the air.

I almost made it.

My right foot hit the last step and I rolled my ankle and crashed in a heap on the landing below the stairs.  I popped up and hopped at hyper speed for the outside door, crossed the icy sidewalk and dove into the car and my wife sped off for home.

I hobbled up the stairs to our apartment thinking to myself, “It is amazing how good you can feel with a severely sprained ankle.”

We could hear the telephone ringing as we unlocked the door.  It was this couple.  Rats!” I thought.  He saw me!“

“Merry Christmas, Tom,” he said.

My wife looked at me as if to ask, “Who is it?” I pantomimed that it was this couple.  She gasped.

“Are you enjoying your Christmas dinner?” he asked.

Why would he ask that?” I thought to myself.

We were so busted, but I tried to play it cool. “Actually, we haven’t had dinner yet,” I said.

“That’s what I thought,” he replied.

My wife whispered to me, “Do they know?” I nodded yes.

“Guess what?” He continued.  “Someone just left a whole Christmas dinner at our door, all cooked up, turkey and everything!”

“Really?” I said, wiping the sweat from my palms.

“Yeah, that’s why we’re calling you.  You guys are the only couple we know of that is poorer than we are, so we were wondering if you wanted to come over and have dinner with us.”

As we entered their apartment bearing the apple pie we held back for ourselves and still unsure if they suspected us, he asked me, “Tom, what happened to your leg?!”

“I cut myself shaving,” I joked.

That was exactly 20 years ago this Christmas.  I don’t remember many of the Christmas gifts I’ve received since then, but I know I will never forget what we gave that Christmas day, and how it felt.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nicky’s bear!

Filed under: Family — Tom Pittman @ 12:15 am

What would you do if you were walking around in your house and you came face to face with a bear? I can tell you what Nicky would do, because it just happened to her!

We had just arrived home from bringing our puppy to the vet when I got a call informing me Emily needed to be picked up. As the family got out of the car, I walked over to another car and drove back into town to get Em. While driving, my mobile phone rang and I began speaking to Nicky. Suddenly she gasped. The sound of her gasp sparked instant alarm inside me.

I asked what was wrong but Nicky didn’t answer. Then she blurted, “Oh! OH! Oh my GOODNESS!” I kept asking her if she was alright, but she didn’t say anything. Then she muttered, “Bear.”

“Did she just say ‘bear?'” I puzzled.

“Bear. Oh my goodness, there is a bear — a bear in our garage! Kids! There is a bear in our garage!”

While talking with me on the telephone, Nicky opened the door from the utility room to the garage, and found herself eye to eye with an Alaskan black bear! She was so close to it, she could have reached out and stroked it, and she would have hit it with the door had the bear not jumped back when the door started to open. The two of them stared at each other for a moment, then Nicky went back into the utility room.

“What do I do?!” Nicky asked.

I told her to have the kids get their cameras and wait at the window for the bear to come out. I didn’t say what I thought was obvious … like, “And don’t let them go outdoors.” I guess I should have though. Some of the boys climbed out on to the roof of the house to see the bear and take photos. After a few minutes they figured they missed the bear and gave up. When 10 minutes or so had passed, Nicky went into the garage again, supposing the bear had long since left. Once again, Nicky unexpectedly found herself face to face with a bear. The bear looked up from eating our puppy’s dog food (from the bag) and stared at Nicky.

When the bear finally left, Nicky and Tommy went out to the car to get the puppy out of the kennel. Nicky banged pans together to scare off the bear if it was still close. The dog is usually quite keen to leave the kennel, but they couldn’t coax the dog out of the kennel. Then they looked up our driveway and saw the bear. The bear saw them too and went at them. They grabbed the dog and ran for the front door where Sam was standing with the door open, and promptly shut it behind them.

Gemma was sitting on the couch taking photos of the bear when the bear went onto our porch and pressed its face against our window, about 8 inches from Gemma’s face, leaving snot on the glass. The kids got some great photos and Josh camcorded it, but he accidentally put the camcorder in night vision mode and left it on, so most of the tape is in green and white. Nicky called 911, and I called a nearby neighbor who is a police officer, and he got there first and shot the bear with special cartridges that have bean bags in them. The bear looked annoyed and walked away. We have seen the bear back around our house in the the days since.

While the whole thing ended up to be a fun adventure, it was actually quite dangerous. This is what is known as a “nuisance bear.” It isn’t properly afraid of people. Had the bear bumped the glass harder, it could have broken through and harmed the family.

While I am tempted to turn this story into a life lesson here in this blog, I think I’ll just leave it at this for awhile, and thank my Father in Heaven that my wife has such a great head on her shoulders.

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