Opinion

Pickles, Santa Moments and Sticking it to 2020

“2020 Strikes Again” is not a good email. That’s the email last week that let me know that a friend, living overseas, is having a rougher-than-the-rest-of-us time. I wanted to DO something to help her. If she were closer, this would be when I’d make her dinner and drop it off on the doorstep. Instead, a care package would have to do.

I learned that *if* I could get the package to her parents before the 23rd, they’d add it to their luggage and hand deliver it to her. Otherwise, it would be a 2+ week mail cycle – assuming that the USPS managed through their current pandemic-holiday backlog. No big deal – her parents live near my brother, and I’m already planning a gift hand-off at his house. “I’ve got this!” I tell our circle of friends, and offer to pull together something on behalf of all of us.

And then I realize that I got two towns in Massachusetts mixed up. Getting something to her parents would be a five-hour drive – through Boston. This wasn’t the hour drive I’d planned. Intellectually, I knew it wasn’t imperative to get something to her RIGHT AWAY. It’s the thought that counts and two weeks isn’t all that long, really.

Except… I was disproportionately disappointed that I couldn’t make this happen. In a year where so much is crap, having to cancel or postpone such a small act of kindness made me angry. Not being able to control this expression of encouragement and support!? Come On 2020!

Making it about my feelings is re-centering this story on me… yet, that anger and frustration reminded me of my go-to mantra: action cures fear. So, what action could I take?

I posted a hail Mary “help me get a package across the state by Tuesday!?” plea on a local mom’s Facebook group. Within TWO hours, I had a relay team in place willing to help out. A mom in town had a friend with connections. When I called her friend, who runs the Cape Cod Family Table Collaborative. Chef Jeni Wheeler had a plan straight out of a holiday movie plot:

I’d drive an hour south and hand the package off to Jim from Green Vines Pickling Company, who was planning a trip to Cape Cod to meet with a cucumber supplier. Oh, and by the way, Jeni said “Jim’s Spicy Spears made the BEST hot and dirty martinis, if you like martinis?”

I couldn’t make this up if I tried and briefly wondered if someone was pulling a prank on me. As I hung up the phone after locking down these details, I looked up and realized it had started to snow.

Every Christmas has what I call “The Santa Moment”: that moment where everything seems a little magical and it’s possible to be present in how wonderful the season can be. I thought maybe The Santa Moment would skip 2020… but watching the snow fall, knowing I would be able to get a small package to a friend a long way from home? That’s my Santa Moment 2020.

When I offered to pay, or donate or SOMETHING as a thank you to the wonderful stranger who figured out how to make this all happen, Jeni sent me a link to The Cape Cod Family Table Collaborative. As I read about the amazing work Jeni does and saw a picture of Jeni , I realized…I KNOW Jeni. We’d gone to b-school at Babson College together. While I’d thought her name looked familiar, I’d assumed it was from being on the same mom’s group or something.

In a year where we are distanced from one another, I’ll look back at this Santa Moment as a reminder that it really is a small world after all, that sometimes strangers aren’t strangers at all, and that an online community can create a mini-miracle that ends in a small care package flying around the globe.

Oh, and that martinis made with local artisan pickles are fantastic!

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