I punched a Pilgrim the other day. Smack dab in the middle of his arrogant, flabby little face!
Best thing I ever did.
It was the day before Thanksgiving, and the entire world was buzzing with holiday cheer. All except for the cramped apartment in my Assisted Living Center, that is. As usual, I awoke to the eerie silence of complete and utter solitude. The stillness choked me as I struggled to get out of bed. As I stepped onto the freezing cold kitchen tiles to start a pot of coffee, I found nothing but an empty can that smelled of coffee grounds. With a deep sigh, I grabbed a glass of tap water and trudged into the living room.
This room was the hardest one to be in at this time of year, because it held the most memories. Visions of children dancing by the Christmas Tree and sitting down with my beloved husband for a cup of evening tea twirled through my mind. My eyes grew misty, and I slammed the glass onto the end table and stalked out of the room. Just couldn’t do it…not today.
I decided to run by the store for more coffee, but soon realized my mistake. Everyone in town had gone shopping for their Thanksgiving Feasts, and no one had time to notice the silver-haired woman in the mechanical scooter.
“Excuse me!” an out-of-breath teenager gasped as his cart slammed into my aching shoulder. It wouldn’t have been so terrible, if this hadn’t been the twelfth time someone had done this.
By some miracle I managed to escape the menacing grocery aisles alive, only to find myself clenching the steering wheel as I faced an overwhelming onslaught of holiday traffic. I was nearly home, when I failed to notice a roadsign and pulled onto Main Street… right into the middle of the community Thanksgiving Parade.
Cheerleaders toppled onto the asphalt as my Buick pulled into the center of their formation, and a chubby boy nearly swallowed his tuba as the marching band crashed into one another. Car horns started blaring, police whistles started blowing, and angry bystanders shouted on all sides.
“Get out of the car!” a policeman barked.
Trembling, I stepped out of the car.
“Crazy woman driver!” a man hollered. “You belong in a nursing home, not on the roads!”
Anger had already begun broiling within me when a plump teenager with a terrible pilgrim costume and a cocky smile scoffed at me. “Hey Granny… you could use a hug!”
Without thinking, I clenched my arthritic knuckles into a hard fist and attacked the boy with surprising ferocity. I landed two or three solid roundhouse punches into his fleshy cheeks before the Homecoming Queen hauled me off of him.
“And don’t call me Granny!” I shrieked as they yanked me toward my Buick.
The police issued me a ticket and ordered me to get off the premises, which I did gladly. I was still trembling with rage when I finally made it home, and screamed bloody murder when I saw a man standing in my living room.
“Who are you?” I shouted frantically. “You picked a fine time to rob me, I’ll tell you that much!”
The man wore a clean white robe, and his chiseled features seemed to glow. He smiled, filling the room with a strange radiance.
“No,” he grinned. “I’m not here to rob you. Don’t be afraid… I’ve only come to show you something.”
“Oh no,” I yelled, fishing for my pepper spray. “I won’t have no pervert traipsing around my house! You’re messing with the wrong old woman, you hear? I just did a number on the fat pilgrim down the street!”
The stranger held up his hand calmly. “Martha,” he said, causing me to freeze. “You’ve lived your entire life without ever really knowing how much you have to be grateful for. I’ve come to show you the truth about your past, present, and future.”
I rolled my eyes. “So now your Charles Dickens and I’m the Thanksgiving Scrooge? Oh brother!”
The man shook his head. “My Book was published a few years before Dickens’ was. Now come.”
He took me by the hand, and in a flash of brilliant white, I found myself in my childhood home. The black hearse in the front drive told me what day it was. The day my father had died.
“You’re not too good at happy memories,” I began, but the man cut me off.
“You’ve always seen this as a dark day,” he explained patiently. “Allow me to open your eyes to the truth.”
I saw myself as a young girl in curls, storming out of the house and racing to the pond. I was weeping bitterly, and the pain felt fresh in the pit of my soul. But then I noticed something strange. As that little girl sat weeping, a glowing figure sat beside her, holding her in his strong arms.
With a wave of his hand the stranger took me back to the grocery store and the Thanksgiving Parade, just a few hours earlier. While I was being pummeled by distracted customers and berated by angry parade parents, an entire team of white-robed beings surrounded me, protecting me from being hit by speeding cars or flying musical instruments.
And then we were in Heaven, as more people than I could count stood in the presence of the Father. The music was more beautiful than I could ever hope to describe, and they sang with the gusto of small children:
Thank You, Lord
For saving my soul,
Thank You, Lord
For making me whole
Thank You, Lord
For giving to me,
Thy great salvation, so rich and free!
I was weeping uncontrollably, and found myself back in my own living room. I was alone once again, but somehow I no longer felt alone. I understood now that I had never truly been alone.
And on my darkest days, this gives me a reason to sing.
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”