Although you may know the words to Jingle Bells by heart, you probably haven’t actually dashed through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh.
If you have, it’s doubtful you were laughing all the way. More likely, you were clinging to the sides of the careening missile in terror, your face frozen in fear, your mind racing to recall if you’d updated your will before embarking on this death ride.
People in Vermont call that sort of thing fun. Here in the sane, sunny South, we call it crazy.
And yet many years ago, back when St. Nick was still svelte, I found myself behind the wheel of a Dodge Caravan, dashing down the interstate on a decidedly non-wintry 70-degree day in December, heading off to Santa’s Land with my wife and four elves to do just that.
No Sleigh, No Way
Imagine my secret delight when we arrived at our destination in Cherokee, NC to discover there wasn’t a single sleigh – horse-drawn, solar-powered or otherwise – on the premises.
“No, no,” cried the elves in unison, as I parked in front of Mrs. Clause’s Kitchen. “Keep going.”
They wanted to continue our trek – over the Oconaluftee River, through the yellow hills, all the way to the North Pole if necessary – whatever it took to find an actual sleigh, ideally one registered in the name of “Kringle, Kris” and filled with toys for every child in the world.
“But there’s a roller coaster,” I said. “And bears. You can feed them with baby bottles.”
“Bears? Baby bottles?”
This got their attention. Out of the Lumina and through the gates of Santa’s Land they tumbled. And a wonderful time was had by all. Except for Rudy, the littlest elf, who was mildly traumatized by the leering, large-antlered plastic beast on the lead car of the ironically-named Rudicoaster.
“Dinosaur,” he said, recoiling from Santa’s favorite reindeer, which he mistook for a stegosaurus.
Ho, Ho … Tow!
The best part of Santa’s Land was you could do everything in a couple of hours – unlike, say, Walt Disney World, which requires a commitment of several years and many thousands of dollars.
And so as the sun settled into the Great Smokies, we climbed into the Polar Express and headed home to Chapel Hill. Then disaster struck. Midway between Marion and Magnolia, our car died. We had gas, and there had been no indication of engine trouble. Yet there we sat on the shoulder of I-40 with four cranky, exhausted elves and traffic whizzing by.
Luckily, I was a tech trailblazer even then. I whipped out my Nokia mobile phone – the size of a yule log, and with an antenna! – to call for help. In minutes, a tow truck arrived.
And that’s how our minivan happened to be pulled – not by a handsome Clydesdale, but a rusted wrecker – down the blacktop eastward to a Chevron service station.
You might think this signaled a dismal end to an otherwise delightful day. Quite the opposite. The best was yet to come. The station was a family enterprise, and while the husband worked on the Caravan, his wife ushered us inside for homemade cookies and Yoo-Hoos.
Everyone was happy. We were safe and together. The radio played Christmas music. And wouldn’t you know it: the Barking Dogs’ version of Jingle Bells came on. Merrily, we barked along.
The Magic of the Season
Practicing law is not always a Joyeux Noel. Particularly at this time of year, when deadlines loom and demands – at work and home – pile up.
That’s why it’s important to remember that the spirit of Christmas is about giving, not getting. It is by giving – to our clients, our colleagues, our families – that we make ourselves useful. It is by serving others that our lives become filled with meaning.
And it is by asking whose sleigh can we pull today, whose Caravan needs a tow, that we make ourselves indispensable in a world where we too often feel anything but.
So strike the harp and join the chorus. Ring those bells!
Jay Reeves practiced law in South Carolina and North Carolina. Like his law stories? Now you can buy a book full of them! “The Most Powerful Attorney in the World” is a collection of 48 of his most popular stories. It makes a great Christmas – or anytime – gift! Or contact email@example.com to learn more.
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.