December 27, 1998
It happened three days ago, but I think it may affect us for the rest of our lives. There was nothing to eat in the house -- it was time to go grocery shopping, a long, daunting task that we always try to put off as long as possible. The afternoon of Christmas Eve was no exception. In fact, we dreaded our task even more that day, since the temperature was below zero, it was really windy, and the roads were icy. The weather service had warned that any exposed skin would frostbite in less than one minute.
I ran out to the garage, started the Blazer to let it warm up a little, and ran back into the house. I complained to Bonnie about the bitter cold. She finished getting bundled up. We bid our pets goodbye, told them we'd be back in a little while (so they wouldn't worry) and trudged out to the truck.
The drive to the store was as we had expected. Powerful gusts battered the truck on all sides as I struggled to keep it centered on the highway. I complained, like I always do, that it had been really stupid for someone to build a city in an area of the country that has such horrible winters. When we finally pulled into the huge parking lot at Rainbow foods, we faced the next stage of the gauntlet -- every parking spot was full. Grumblingly, we joined a group of Flying Dutchmen, creeping up and down the aisles, each of us hoping to be the first one to see someone's back-up lights come on. After a few minutes, we found ourselves parked about halfway out in the lot, and we hurried into the store. In the doorway of the store, where there are normally about ninety shopping carts, arranged in three rows, there were four carts, in one row. I grabbed a cart and we started making our way up and down the grocery aisles. I complained about how cold the cart felt against my hands.
When we got to the bread aisle, Bonnie expressed her frustration over the fact that they were out of potato rolls and pumpernickel bread, two of her favorites. Something in me snapped. I looked her right in the eyes and said, "I love when that happens!" She grinned, and we both started laughing. I continued, "Yup, I think it's great that they don't have the stuff we want! I hope it happens every time!" Bonnie said, "I'm not sure I like this better than you being grumpy!" We both laughed some more and hugged each other. This shopping trip was going to be fun.
As we continued up and down the aisles, we found many more excuses to make more silly jokes. When we finally filled our cart and headed for the checkout line, we found ten cashiers, each with a long line of overstuffed shopping carts waiting to check out. "This is great! We'll have plenty of time to relax before we have to go home!" Bonnie gave me a kiss and told me that she was really proud of me for being so patient. We stood in line for about a half-hour, making jokes about the long wait the whole time.
After that, it didn't seem like that much work to pack seven bags full of groceries. It didn't seem like that much work to push the loaded shopping cart out to the truck. It didn't seem like that much work to load all of the bags into the back seat.
A half-mile from the store, a stoplight suddenly changed, forcing me to decide whether to try to stop on the icy road, or to accelerate and get through the intersection before the cross-traffic started. I chose to try to stop. "Whoa!", I called as I gently, but firmly, pressed the brake pedal. I knew that if I didn't press it hard enough, we were going to roll into the intersection, right in front of the cross-traffic, but if I pressed it any harder, our wheels would lock up and we would skid into that same traffic. Gradually, we came to a stop, at exactly the right place. I breathed a sigh of relief. That's when I heard Bonnie say, "I love when that happens!" I laughed. "Yeah, it really get's your blood pumping when you're almost killed like that!"
Now it's been three days, and we're still saying, "I love when that happens!" and laughing whenever we're annoyed at something. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but it sure is making our lives a little easier. Maybe it helps us to laugh at ourselves every once in awhile. Maybe it shows us that many of the little things that used to upset us were not worth getting upset over. Maybe it helps us count our blessings.
And you know I love when that happens!
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