Saturday, December 3, 2016

Not the One in Which Costner's Scenes Ended Up on the Cutting Room Floor

Today is one of my favorite days of the Christmas season.  This morning is the annual "Big Chill" 5K at Rutgers University.  There are any number of things I love about this race, not the least of which is the fact that way back when in December, 2008, it was the very first race in which I ran.  I signed up with Wilma to run with her and some of her friends.  I still remember (a) how hilarious I looked bundled up in my far-too-many layers of bulky clothing; and (b) how crestfallen I was (not wearing a watch of any kind) to discover that at the moment my body felt as if it had already run three-plus miles, we had only covered about three-tenths of one mile.  My sister was one hell of a good sport, seeing as she could have completed a second lap around the course in the time it took me to complete just one, and she stayed with me throughout the duration of the race.  

The 2008 Big Chill remains the only race in which Jill and I have ever participated together.  For that reason alone, this event would forever hold a special place in my heart.  But it is so much more than even that.  This is an event for which there is no monetary registration fee.  The cost of entry is an unwrapped toy, valued at $15.00 or more, which Rutgers University collects and distributes to children, ages three to fourteen, in the New Brunswick area for whom Christmas would otherwise just be one of thirty-one December days on the calendar. Even for the unrepentant assholes among us (and I refer now to me and the face that stares back at me in the bathroom mirror every morning - any resemblance you bear to that remark is left for you to assess), it is an event that makes you feel good about yourself and, moreover, the world around you.  

This morning, prior to the race's start, I shall spend time sitting upstairs at the College Avenue Gym (a/k/a "the Barn") watching toys get added to the "Toys Collected" stack, which shall run this year - as it has in years past - the entire length of the basketball court.  The toys collected are not the result of the generosity of one person - or even a handful of people - but rather, they are the result of thousands of people, many of whom are strangers to one another and to the child who shall be the recipient of their donated toy, each taking a moment to do one small thing for someone else.  

And they are a reminder to me - and hopefully to you as well - that "one small thing" is really all it takes - and all that it has ever taken - to make a difference.  



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