Remember the Duck Index two posts ago? How we’re going to do more of what we want to do and say no without guilt to everything else? Yeah, I talk a big game.
No sooner did I write those words than the calendar page flipped and tossed me into the most
wonderful stressful time of the year.
The time-sucking, sanity-sapping specter of shopping, cards, decorating, overeating, and road trips seized my duck with the sole intent to lop off his head, smoke, and serve him for New Year’s brunch.
I suspect the true target is me.
The marksman crouches low in the dried cattails along the late autumn shoreline, his quiver full of guilt-tipped arrows. Silently, he pulls back his bow and launches the Dickens three-pronged attack.
Zing! The arrow of Christmas Past hits me in the chest. Memories of years long gone by and loved ones lost steal the air from my lungs. Zip! He hits me again. Christmas Present lodges squarely in my left shoulder. Pain shoots across my back with the knowledge that I can’t possibly do all of the things I’m supposed to do to make this the best. holiday. EVER. Pop! Christmas Future pegs me right between the eyes. My head aches with premonitions of a time when I’ll be too old, alone, and destitute to jingle even the tiniest silver bell.
I’m not dead yet, so the duck slayer gingerly lobs the Martha Stewart arrow. It’s carved of Quaking Aspen wood, finished with Peregrine feathers on one end and a rare, Native American arrowhead chiseled from Yellowstone Obsidian on the other. It slices through the skin on my right arm like a whalebone-handled table knife acquired at a tag sale in Connecticut slices through artisanal butter. I bleed enough to ruin the linens of an otherwise perfect holiday table setting, but the injury’s not fatal.
The archer selects the Good Christian Men arrow in an attempt to finish me off. This arrow screams as it flies at me, “Rejoice already! What’s wrong with you? Rejoice! Rejoice! It’s what good Christians do!”
I’m drowning in guilt when here it comes, the mother lode. The hunter lets fly the I’ll Be Home for Christmas arrow. True, I’ll be in someone’s home for Christmas. My home now? My home back then? The home of my relatives or in-laws? Could home be an illusion that exists if only in my dreams? Perhaps I should pitch a tent along the interstate. Set up camp under the Eads Bridge on the banks of the Mississippi.
The archer is ready with more ammunition. There’s the You Busted Your Holiday Budget and It’s Not Even December Yet arrow. The You’re Going Out to Eat on Christmas Instead of Cooking a Meatless, Organic Feast of Locally-Sourced Winter Vegetables? arrow. And new this year, the special edition red, white, and blue Happy New Year’s Dive Off the Fiscal Cliff arrow.
I shudder, quite sure my punctured carcass will be thrown onto Frosty’s compost pile to melt into oblivion. When what with my wondering ears do I hear?
Oh, sweet horn of Gideon.
“Ree, ree, ree, ree. Quack!”
My duck is safe and hungry. He chatters at me to get up.
I leave the hunter and his arrows behind to follow this simple, ingenious, waddling creature. I watch as he steps into the water and floats. Can you do that?
He glides along the surface, his body the motor, rudder, and hull. He scoops up the bread crumbs I toss. He inverts and dives. He shakes off droplets, tucks his head, and rests. He flaps his wings and flies.
Surely He will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:3-4 NIV
The Duck Song by Bryant Oden.
How will you save duck this holiday season?