It is that magic time of the year, 75 and counting for me. I always find my body weight increasing this time of year, and remind myself that I will seriously turn it up a notch in the gym after New Years…and unfortunately I do that just before I have another piece of cake or chocolate brownie.
When Coastal Point hits the newsstand on December 21, it will be the shortest day in terms of sunlight. The good news is that the sun has finally tired of retreating and on Saturday, December 22, will slowly return, the tilt of the earth providing a magical distribution of light on our trees and crops. Enough weeks have passed that I have almost forgotten about that oppressive August heat, and I already find myself looking forward to warmer temperatures in the spring.
Thankfully candles and artificial lights bring warmth and good natured hospitality to homes and restaurants across the Delmarva Peninsula. It is the time of year they play music with words I understand, and magical things happen like students spontaneously buying a top of the line Paddletek paddle for their basketball coach. I have always found this time of year a good time to count my own blessings, and inquire about others. I have always had a very active lifestyle, so I looked forward to kicking back for several weeks at holiday time to enjoy family and friends. The grandkids are especially enjoyable that time of year and always liked my war stories.
Which brings me to the Geographic North Pole where elves have been working overtime to build toys and games for youngsters around the world. I believe it was 1967 if I remember correctly, and I met my first elf that year. Christmas Eve was just hours away. I was on duty serving in the Air Defense Command and we received a top secret message. Santa’s sleigh had broken down and his elves had contacted us directly from the downed sleigh asking if we could dispatch a jet aircraft to pick up several maintenance elves and fly them to the downed sleigh.
When we arrived, they had, somewhat magically, cleared and smoothed a long patch of ice at the North Pole for our landing, and surrounded it with thousands of elves holding handles to outline their temporary runway. A large group of very efficient elves awaited us as we slowed and then taxied to the end of the runway. Two of the younger elves jumped in with their maintenance equipment and after they topped off our fuel tanks, we took off following an electronic gizmo in their laps with a red blinking light leading us to the downed sleigh. As we streamed across the sky, one of these fellows told me he was young by elf standards, about 725 as I remember. Another elf kept excitedly talking about this new game Pickleball which had been invented just a couple years earlier. I am embarrassed to tell you that I vividly remember telling him I was a tennis player and wouldn’t likely play the game he described. After we did a low altitude pass over Santa’s kaput sleigh, we returned to allow his elves to do a low altitude parachute jump. On the third pass they gave us a thumbs up that they managed to quickly repair the sleigh and make Santa jolly again.
I stayed in touch with my new young friends, and they periodically reminded me over the years I was catching them in age and should play pickleball before it is too late. It is all hush hush, but apparently last May the elves reached a breaking point trying to stay abreast of building toys for so many youngsters in a world approaching 7.7 billion people. They went on a strike and refused to build any more toys until they negotiated some recreational time in their contract. After two weeks, it was agreed that the elves could play two hours of pickleball every day at lunch time.
And you didn’t even know that elves played Pickleball. They had trouble, like we all do, with those wooden paddles, but they jumped on “composite technology” in 1984. Since they manufacture toys and games, producing a small pickleball is quite easy for them, and their composite paddles are smaller, half of our 24 square inch maximum. They play only in the “Kitchen” of the traditional size pickleball court which means they can squeeze a large number of courts into their indoor recreational centers.
So this year, when you receive a pickleball paddle as a present, be a little more sympathetic, excuse the lateness of delivery, and remember those hard working elves. With two hours of practice a day, they are going to be a future force to reckon with, especially in the 725 -750 age bracket.
Those 75 holidays have seemingly passed at warp speed for me, and I cherish the memories of all of them. Many of you will be traveling to visit families, and I hope everyone will pay extra attention to safe driving so we all can enjoy another wonderful holiday to remember as we go forward. My gift to you? The elf story for your grandchildren.