Christmas was a magical time around our household when I was growing up. My Dad’s birthday was Christmas Eve, so there was always a community party with people stopping and visiting, yes partying, after we came home from Christmas Eve services. Usually, people would give us some time to open presents before they would start coming. My folks always tried to get me something special that I wanted. I remember the Jimmy Jet, a console like an airplane cockpit. It was pretty expensive, over $10 in say 1961, sold in grocery stores only. It was a must have. Imagine my disappointment when I realized I couldn’t “fly, fly, fly” around the house like the TV commercial implied. In 1967, it was a far more dangerous toy.
When we got back from church services, there was this long, narrow package wrapped up and leaning against a chair by the tree. I couldn’t wait to open it because I just knew my Olympic career as a ski jumper was about to begin. Don’t need a Jimmy Jet to fly, the skis and a good hill would do the trick. I guess I am starting to sound as if my childhood was a bit like Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies—every week it was a different adventure, a different vocation. Deep down in, I always was, and still am, a Cowboy, but I digress. The skis were navy blue, about five feet long, made of fiberglass. The boot binding was leather straps, like sandals, riveted into the ski. The ski poles were made from bamboo with leather straps to go around your wrists. They had a circle made out of bamboo at the bottom that was held on with leather spokes. Cool.
I couldn’t wait to try out the skis. But wait, I must. It was too dark outside, and it was too late when everyone left. The next morning, with visions of an Olympian ski jumper in my creative little mind, I rushed downstairs and tried on the skis. I was sliding around the house, getting the feel for them. Then I had a great idea. Go to the top of the steps and ski down. It would be a beautiful thing—practice one part of the ski jump and not even have to go out in the cold. I hoisted the skis upon my shoulder and ascended the 13 steep steps build around 1840. I got to the top, strapped on my skis, struck my crouched position, and boom, boom, boom. It was a rough ride bouncing down those steps hitting my butt on each one. Then there was the sudden stop. Fortunately, nothing was broken. But it did wake up my parents, who put an end to that.
During Christmas vacation, I took the skis over to my friend Sonny’s place. He had a nice hill in the back. Sonny strapped on those skis and looked like a pro. We took turns. Once again, I booted up and headed down the hill. Gaining speed on a straightaway. Doing great. Uh-oh. I was going so fast that I couldn’t stop and there was a barbed wire fence closing in fast. Somehow, I went down and slid under the lowest strand, ripping up some clothing and scraping up some flesh. Sonny, after seeing I was OK, laughed and laughed. So did I amid the blood dripping from my wounds. I knew then I wasn’t cut out for the slopes. But Sonny and I had some fun with those crazy skis—in the yard, out in the woods, wherever. Isaiah 1:18 says in part, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Sometimes the snow can be scarlet, too.