Eli had been fielding inquiries about what he wanted for Christmas for weeks. His answer this year was; “I need tools to make stuff.” That hardly gave an answer to those who had to do the shopping. Their response was pretty much always; “What do you want to make?” After that, the answer came “I guess just to fix things, and make them work and look good.”
We know this: that we were always a family of fixer-uppers. His Grandpas and Grandmas did houses, additions, decks, greenhouses, old cars, furniture redo, and re purposed and sold nicky-nacks. That crept into the DNA of all their siblings, and beyond.
The philosophy was;”Whatever needs work will find you, but you have to be always looking.” This, of course, implies the intense need to fix… but often the desire to make a few bucks now and then on hidden treasures.
All this may account for the early interest that Eli had in stepping into the process. The seed of shopping for the right “candidate” emerged, and he would join the caravan to Goodwill and Habitat as often as he could.
Soon the value of shopping through the computer on the dining room table led to regular visits to Craigslist and other in-line resources.
For most of us, tools are pretty personal, but they do’t have to be right out of the box to do their jobs. They can be used. And, of course the trouble with borrowing them; they have to be returned
This led to the conclusion that he just needed the cash for them for Christmas, and he would buy what he needed.
Christmas came, and his money jar runneth over. With, of course, a sprinkling of a too small shirt, ugly socks, and a sweater that looked like it would work better on girls.
Even so, he was pleased to begin the journey to all of the mentioned destinations to find just the right prospects for projects.
But the question remained; Where to start? Soon it became apparent.
He rode his bike one day to the park, planning to shoot a few hoops at their busy short courts. He parked over against the fence and stepped onto the court with a couple of friends who were already playing. He noticed a small girl who had come over near his bike, and was looking it over….then, she lovingly stroked it on the handlebar.
Eli saw this and looked her way. She met his eyes with a shy smile. Eli passed off the ball and walked over to her. “Like my bike? he asked. She replied; “Yes, it’s wonderful. I wish I could afford one.” It soon developed that she and her mother, who was a waitress, lived alone, and they were barely making ends meet.
Eli, finding it hard to believe that she never had a bike, immediately said, out of the blue; “Well we are certainly going to have to fix that!”
Parting with a promise to surprise her with something, and having secured her close-by address, he set off on the first project on his own.
He checked all the resources, but did not find the right one at the right price…. until a visit to the bike store revealed that they had a pile of trade-ins that they used for parts. After a bit of negotiating, he found the perfect one… a bit tattered, but workable for $15.00, including a bonus of a new rear reflector.
He brought it home, laid out his new tools, and began to take it apart; wheels and fenders off, then, to sand it down to remove all of the chipped paint. The chrome fenders were O.K. after he straightened a crimp in one of them.
He pictured the little girl, Nancy, and decided that she would really like powder blue, and after masking and priming the finished it with a spray can…..Beautiful!
The tires were good, but one needed a new tube, and the brake pads were very worn.. off they came. He found a soft, new seat cover at Goodwill. All in all, it was finished in a week, laboring after school, and a full day Saturday.
He was so proud of what he had accomplished. His mom and dad stood at the driveway, and applauded as he rode off to Nancy’s house…. His knees nearly rounding up to his chin as he pedaled. When he arrived, he rang the little bell on the handlebar.
She burst through the screen door, hardly believing her eyes. This was the most beautiful blue bike in captivity….posing there on it’s new kickstand, and ready to see the whole world with her.
Tears were flowing down her cheeks, as she reached for Eli to give him a kiss on the cheek….. his response: “Whoa….It’s only a bike” ( but he was secretly brimming over with the joy of it all)……..and he accepted a small kiss.
She whispered in his ear; “Will you please be my big bother?” To which he replied: “Only if you first will be my little sister.” Mom, having joined the pair, seconded the motion, thinking; “Having another child could never have been this easy.”
Eli whistled his way home, loving the thought of it all, and thinking out loud; ” All I wanted for Christmas were tools, and I ended up with a little sister.”
“God works in amazing ways, He knew EXACTLY what I really needed”.
“But then, He IS God………………and I’m just His new fixer- upper!”