NORMAN — Editor’s note: The following story was submitted to the Transcript’s annual Christmas story contest.
Each year as I shop for gifts, I remember what I found during my nightly run one summer evening, and what I was able to give each family member that Christmas.
About sundown, I run in Hall Park on a path over a creek, past barking dogs and through my neighborhood. This evening, my run was devoted to thinking about my mom, who was reaching the end of her fight with breast cancer with not much time left. Contemplating life without “Murry Jean” was hard.
Normally, when I got to the bridge, I looked to see if water was in the creek. As usual, no water, but there was a big, bulging trash bag sitting on top of all kinds of toys. I thought, “Who in their right mind would dump toys, and how can I get them?”
Part of my brain said that I should go home and get the necessary tools to retrieve my treasure while there was enough daylight. The other part said that I should plan the deed while I ran and go back, well-equipped for the adventure.
As I ran, I conceived a plot to stay on the bridge and use a fishing pole to snag the loot. It seemed like a good idea, but at the same time, I hoped that no one would pay attention to the crazy woman with a flashlight, fishing off the bridge in the dark. I also wondered what I would tell any authorities who came by and questioned me.
I laughed and reasoned it would be OK and surely no one would drive by. I lowered a hook and snagged one of the toys, but the weight of the bag would not allow success. So, just as a patrol car turned onto 24th Avenue, I decided to wait until dawn.
The next morning, I explained the story to my daughter. She noted that I was insane but agreed to go with me. We took our gear and dressed to conquer the poison ivy, ticks and mosquitoes that awaited.
We marched to the creek bed where an exploded toy store of figurines lay. Every stuffed animal sang and danced. The batteries worked. A hound dog holding a guitar and dressed like Elvis began to sing and wiggle. Rudolph was in a rocking chair. Santa was singing. We had found presents for everyone whether they wanted them or not.
We took the loot to my parent’s house that weekend, hoping to make my mom laugh, but she never got to see the haul. She would have laughed heartily to learn how they came to be mine and how I distributed them to family that Christmas.