Neighbors started to gather. "What is it?" one asked as I ripped off the shrink wrap. "It's an award, a major award," I screamed. The crowd grew bigger; you could hear them whispering, "He won that...it's a major award." There she was in all her glory...A Big Green Egg.
Ok, so maybe the story didn't happen exactly like that, but my story does feel a lot like the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story. My "major award" can be traced back to a football tailgate in October. It was like any other tailgate...football being over-analyzed, world problems being solved, Jack throwing a football up in a tree, when out of nowhere a good friend asked what I thought at the time was a life-changing question. "Do you need a Green Egg?" Need is such a strong word. Immediately a voice (that oddly sounded just like my wife's voice) began screaming...you already have an offset smoker that requires you to spend all day outside cooking, where are you going to put the Egg, how many different tools does one person need to smoke meat, why can't you just go to Henry's BBQ like everyone else? As this voice was still screaming in my head, I calmly responded, "Yes...Yes, I NEED a Green Egg."
You may be wondering who gives away a Green Egg. Well, my friend received the Egg as a work award, but he already had an Egg and after he reached out to 17 other people, he asked me if I would like it. The major award would be shipped to my house in December, just in time for Christmas.
Mid-December had arrived. I turned into my driveway and something didn't feel right. Why was Clay parked out front and not in the garage? As I continued down the driveway and turned around the back of the house, there it was..the major award had arrived. It had arrived and had been delivered right in front of where Clay parks. My eyes watered as I looked at the shrink-wrapped pallet in my driveway. She was beautiful, almost angelic even, as if a golden halo was hovering over the award. As my eyes began to clear and the halo became a triangular "Do not stack...Fragile" sign, the reality set in that I couldn't enter the house until this was moved. Contrary to popular belief, I am not what some would call strong, but luckily with this being the sixth house we have lived in, I had a dolly. So, with surgical precision (picture a monkey attempting to do a Rubik's cube), I was able to transfer the Egg to the dolly and move it into the garage out of the way. Do hernias get better on their own?
The Egg stayed on the dolly in the garage until yesterday. Yesterday was assembly day. I didn't have a lot of time because mother and daughter were going to see The Nutcracker, so father and son needed to support the arts as well. We had a date at the movies to see what I am sure is already getting Oscar buzz, Sing. You know, the animated movie about a city of animals that put on a singing competition.
Back to the Egg. The first order of business is to assemble the "Nest." The Nest (such a clever name, I know) is the apparatus that holds the Egg and has four wheels so the Egg can easily be moved around. No problem, Nest assembled. Next, one must place the large ceramic base in the Nest. After removing two of the ceramic pieces that sit inside the base, it was not as heavy as I thought and I was able to place it safely in the Nest. One step left, attach the top to the base. At first this looks intimidating, as there is a bag full of what seems like 100 nuts and bolts; in reality it was more like 12. I get the hinge in place, but the pressure is mounting, as I hear an encouraging voice from upstairs..."You've got 20 minutes!!!" I am now like a Nascar pit crew, running around the Egg tightening bolts like they were lug nuts on Earnhardt's black #3. Boom...done. The major award had been assembled.
After digesting a box of Milk Duds and enough Dr. Pepper to fill up the Table Rock Reservoir, the movie was over. The singing had stopped on the screen, but my bladder was still singing soprano. Of course, so was every kid's bladder in the theater, the line to the restroom was out the door. I grabbed Jack and after four rolling stops and slightly aggressive speeds on Parkins Mill Road, we were home.
Now with a clear mind and an empty bladder, I could marvel at my major award. She was gorgeous, the Christmas tenderloin was never going to taste better. Let's get this mess cleaned up before Clay gets home (she will be so proud of me). I began picking up pieces of the cardboard box, but what is that I see on the floor? Oh, it's a black piece of metal with some words on it. The piece is for the base of the Nest warning you not to move the Egg while it's hot. How did I miss this piece? It is not an important piece. The Egg would be fine without it, but this is a major award and a major award is going to be done right. I stare at the perfectly assembled Egg. It was not too heavy when I placed the base in the Nest. I can take it out and place the missing piece on the Nest.
I lift the Egg out of the base. I carefully lower it toward the garage floor. Almost there. My hand slips. The base crashes. And just like that, my base and my dreams of smoking meats in a ceramic vessel that can hold temps for hours are shattered.
Warning: Graphic Picture
I will let Ralphie from A Christmas Story narrate the ending...
With as much dignity as he could muster, the old man gathered up the shattered remains of his major award. Later that night, alone in the backyard, he buried it next to the garage. Now I could never be sure, but I thought I heard the sound of "Taps" being played...gently.
While I lost my major award, my Christmas will still be great. For some others who have experienced loss this year, their Christmas will feel much different. I ask that you remember those who may have lost a loved one this year and pray that they take comfort from past memories and soon are able to experience joy in new traditions.