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Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Posted on : December 30, 2014

1. ChristmasI’m all about traditions. Unfortunately I started one, years ago, that I wish I hadn’t. It’s the one where I aim to be physically impaired during the Christmas holidays. I’d like to blame it on my quarterback brother, Derek, but surely you know it’s my fault. My parents once asked, “Must you always play with such reckless abandon?” Yep. There was an on switch which I loved turning on and an off switch which I rarely found a use for.

I suppose I was born a bundle of pent up energy, so when a physical game of any type ensued I went full speed ahead like a crazed imp, until I was busted. It didn’t help with my foolish notion to be the only wide receiver/horticulturist in the NFL. It’s even more foolish when you realize that I never played any organized football in my life! I suppose it all started with my dad tossing the football to me in our backyard in Longview. I was a fast little elf, so he’d toss it as far as he could and I would sprint under it. Then brother number two took up quarterbacking and needed somebody to catch them. Folks would toss them and I’d catch them…no matter what.

Unfortunately this lead to broken toes, broken fingers, a broken collar bone, a broken wrist, a broken eye socket, and a broken ankle. And certainly the most ideal time in the world for 2. Dogsplaying football for a youngster is the Christmas holidays. After all, you’ve been shut up in school all semester and recently inundated with football on TV. Then suddenly you have a month with time on your hands and herds of other boys looking for something to do.

I’m sure most of you have or had mothers that were busy as bumble bees during the holidays. There are cards to send, decorations to deck, gifts to purchase and wrap, groceries to procure, and feasts to prepare. In hind sight, it turned out to be extremely irritating to mix in visits to the emergency room, doctor, pharmacy, etc. How was I to know this?

It all came to a head one December when my brother tossed the perfect bomb to me as I sprinted down the football practice field next to Lobo Stadium in Longview. As I grabbed it with my sticky, outreached fingers, one of his large football teammates pounced on my back. The next step ended with a loud pop when my ankle snapped. Unsurprisingly, they dragged me to the sideline where I writhed in pain as they finished the game. I distinctly remember that “You better not be hurt again” look in my mother’s frosty eyes when I hopped into the house on one leg. She was raised a tomboy, was in the middle of raising three active boys, and had zero tolerance for unnecessary whining. “It will feel better in the morning,” she assured. What she didn’t say, but I certainly understood, was “I’m very busy and don’t have time to deal with you and your constant orthopedic shenanigans!” I’m pretty sure I also heard her telepathically project “If your leg is broken, I’m going to break the other one using one of your good arms!”3. Dressing

So after shivering in pain all night, she hauled my crippled carcass to the hospital the next morning where I hopped in using a baseball bat for a crutch and wheeled out sporting a shiny white cast. And then came the classic line… “You are NEVER again allowed to leave the house during the Christmas holidays!” That was the year I got a skateboard for Christmas and scooted around the house on my butt while everybody stepped over me. Thankfully she only made the rule stick one year, as I drove her insane the following Christmas and was told “You are NEVER again allowed in the house during the Christmas holidays!” Folks sure get testy during the Yuletide. Thankfully she still allows me in the house to eat Christmas dinner each year with the family.

And thankfully that same busy, tired, hard working, loving momma hauled me to the hospital once again the week before this Christmas for my third hip surgery (on the same hip!). I’ve mostly 4. Birdsgiven up football and she’s mostly given up banishing me from her house during the holidays but I did hear the family whispering about the possibility of sending Uncle Greg to the glue factory. They certainly wouldn’t have tolerated this in the old days.

So as I sit here on two pillows writing this month’s blog, with an ice pack strapped on like a toy pistol, I’m forced to think about happiness. To be, or not to be, is the question. Well certainly I choose to be. Life is way too short to be unhappy about anything. The world is full of gloom and doom, but it’s also full of wonder and magic. One only has to open their eyes and gristled little hearts to find it. Heck, I keep a healthy heaping of happiness right outside my doors and windows. I’m happy that my dogs love me. I’m happy that I grow my own veggies to eat. I’m happy that I raised the Cuckoo Maran rooster that helped make our Christmas dressing and gumbo. I’m happy that birds come to see me every day. I’m happy that I have an 8 acre green curtain of pine trees outback that beg me to walk under them each day. I’m happy that despite the fact that they now play their horns better than I do, my nephews and niece still let me play 5. Pinesin the Arcadia All Star Cowboy Polka Band. And I’m happy to have good friends and family that put up with my soft heart and weak spine. I’m even happy thinking about every bone I broke, because I was outside doing something that I loved. Here’s hoping that you and yours find a most happy new year ahead. And if you don’t find it, you aren’t looking in the right spot! -Greg

PS: Thank you (again) Momma.

Written by Greg Grant

Greg Grant is an award-winning horticulturist, conservationist, photographer, and writer from Arcadia, Texas. Each month he writes an article for The Arbor Gate Blog where he is given free range to write about any topic that interests him. During the week, he is the Smith County horticulturist in Tyler for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and on the weekends, he and his wife tend Greg’s grandparents’ old farmhouse, his Rebel Eloy Emanis Pine Savanna and Bird Sanctuary, a flock of laying hens, four terriers, one German shepherd, and three cats.

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Greg Grant |

I made those(and a bunch more) paper snowflakes for my mom years ago with scissors and copy paper. A reader asked me about them.

Laurie |

What a delightful way to start my day! And your love letter to your life is more than enough to make me re-think my glum mood about all this freezing weather. You're absolutely right, Greg. I need to adopt the 'don't worry, be happy' mantra immediately! I have been oblivious to all the truly miraculous things in my life (perhaps having gotten caught up in all the holiday busy-ness, not unlike your mother) that I so often overlook. The hoot of an owl that greeted me this morning as I walked out to fetch the newspaper, a cup of steaming coffee and the thoughtful spouse who makes it for me each and every morning, this aging body that I so often dismiss as lacking the vigor and vitality of my youth, but which still serves me quite well, thank you very much. Well, now I'm on a roll...thank you,Greg, for nudging me to hit my 'reset' button. Happy New Year!

Greg Grant |

Thanks Laurie. Barred owls call from my woods almost every night here. Competitors were caterwauling yesterday evening. I love my owls. I once road to Texas A&M with a great horned owl in my Honda Civic with me. What a hoot!

Linda |

One of the best blogs you've written. It's inspired me to be grateful that I can work on my quilt on this rainy, cold day and not lament that I cannot get out in the garden.

Greg Grant |

Thanks Miss Linda! Cold weather makes the brittle bones hurt but I'm still thankful they aren't bone meal. Plus if it wasn't for the bad days, good days wouldn't exist. Managed to get a good many of my bluebird houses cleaned out while I was off. They've been courting left and right. I usually try to get it wrapped up by Valentine's Day.

D. Riley |

I really enjoy reading your blogs each month. It is nice to know others appreciate the details in nature. Speedy recovery to you...the world is working...says the birds outside this windy morning...and you will heal :)