It was cold day in Minnesota (a bit of an understatement from my point of view), and my brother and nephew had come down with the flu. My mom was over there helping out my sister-in-law for the day which means she also ended up getting the flu, but there are certain risks you’ll take for family.
She came downstairs when she got home, and told me I should go shovel their driveway and steps to help them out. While she didn’t say, “Go, do that now” I took it as strong suggestion that I should follow through on (a decision that my dad agreed with). So in so many words, and grunts, said I would.
Now before you go and say, “Oh, what a nice guy,” let me be one-hundred percent honest: I did not want to do this. Before she came down was sitting comfortably warm on the downstairs couch next to a gas-powered fireplace trying to find something to write about (also known as browsing that Internet which happens when you need to find ‘inspiration’); I was cozy, and no real desire to leave that spot the rest of the night.
I’m also very skinny. So during the winter, I do my best to stay inside whenever possible. Most people around this area go outside during this time of year to have fun, and I’ve never understood that (indoor heating was not invented to be neglected). It’s a firm belief that I was born in this state by accident (thanks, God, maybe you should lay off the wine when working).
So as I was getting ready to face the life-threatening (to me, at least) elements of a cold Minnesota night, I did one of the things I do best, unintentionally. I stalled. I waited as long as I could, even texting my sister-in-law to make sure she needed it done (and hoping her answer was no). It was starting to get dark out so I warmed my mom’s SUV up, put a shovel in the back, grabbed my iPod, and drove over.
I parked the car by the curb. The day was becoming night, and a certain calm feeling filled the atmosphere. No wind; just coldness, and snow. I put my iPod on, scrolled to Lee Brice’s I Don’t Dance album, and started shoveling.
As I started shoveling the steps, I looked up towards the front door, and saw my nephew standing in the small window in his pajamas. He waved, and I waved back. Then it dawned on me; this actually wasn’t as big a deal as I made it out to be (which I am very good at doing, by the way). I don’t enjoy being out in cold one bit, but the shoveling wasn’t bad at all.
And to be honest, seeing my nephew smiling and waving through the window made for anything trouble the dire (at least in my mind) temperatures were giving me. It may have been also due to the fact that he was slowly getting over his flu.
There was just something about that night: the calm winter, Parker (my nephew’s name) waving, smiling, Lee Brice on my iPod for the whole thing. Maybe it’s because he’s still at that stage where he’s ultimately a pint-sized explorer getting his feet wet in this crazy place, and testing the boundaries. He still doesn’t really know what the word “No” means (although his parents would say that’s very debatable). And his smiles are those of pure joy; he hasn’t learned to laugh or smile because someone got hurt or finally ‘got what was coming to them.’ He hasn’t developed a cynicism about the world that can unfortunately be formed out of experience. He’s just happy (most of the time).
Sometimes, in the end, it is the little things, and people, that make all the difference. If only they could stay little in some way.