Bake a Cake, Win a Turkey, or Starve!

Thanksgiving was just around the corner, years ago, when my sons were 8 and 9. I worried about Thanksgiving, coming and going, without a turkey. It was going to be a pretty grim Thanksgiving; I was eyeballing chickens and wondering how fooled the boys would be.

The boys participated in the Boy Scouts Bake Sale the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The prize was a turkey dinner, complete with potatoes, gravy mix, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. With $6.00 to my name, I knew this was my only chance. That, or we'd have to settle for chicken.

The scouts were supposed to make their own cake. Home made by the boys. My mind slithered back to the soap box derby earlier that year, where the boys were supposed to make a screaming racing car out of a block of wood, *by*themselves* There was a family at the bake sale that evening - affluent, intelligent, and beautiful parents with equally beautiful twin boys, age 9. The twins showed up at the derby with a cherry-red, cherried-out, speed demon race car that won hands down! My son showed up with a hand carved by him (with a little inadequate help from me), lemon colored (for a reason) obviously home-made car that wouldn't even roll an inch without help.

Now my mind came back to the night before Thanksgiving, and there on the table of 20 cakes was the twins' cake, stunning in its beauty, of course, an absolutely beautiful beehive cake with yellow and white striped icing, and little furry bees on toothpicks "hovering" over the beehive, every detail finely etched as if it were created by some elite French chef. And our cake, Mr. Happy Face, which was bumpy and wavy, black frosting smeared into a crude half circle with a crooked little smile and two globs for eyes – the saddest cake I have ever seen. (But hand-made by my son!)

I grumbled to myself. I had decided I was going to have to buy the cake back for $2.00, leaving me $4.00. I could still get that damned chicken.

It was getting darned close to disaster time in my family as our misshapen cake, made totally by my son (did I say that already?), was sitting forlorn and lonely as all the other cakes were being raffled off – it was down to the beehive cake or the happy face cake.

Bee Family bought my cake AND theirs!

I felt a strange twisting in my gut – I was bitter and angry and jealous and peeved and crabby. They could have bought all 20 cakes! And of course, Bee Family won the turkey dinner. It was a test for me to practice sweetness in the face of total disaster. Now, I had no turkey dinner. And I had no cake!

I told myself that this was a good thing. I still had SIX dollars to buy my "chicken" dinner. And spare change to get two ice cream cones for two pretty sad little boys.

We got to our car and I was loading the kids in, when Mr. Bee came up to me with this HUGE box, the hump of a gigantic turkey peering over the edge; potatoes, stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, the WORKS. "We've already got our turkey – this would just go to waste – would you mind taking it off our hands?"

Well, I tell ya, I could hardly talk to him as I choked up and teared up and tried to stuff all the guilt I was feeling for, well, for feeling cheated, and poor, and pathetic!

There is always something to be thankful for. If you find yourself in a downward spiral, something will come along to lift you out of that hole. I am ever thankful for this family's gift to my family.

May I be able to pay it forward in every moment where I can pass along a kindness or a gentle touch. Hoping everyone finds abundant reasons for being thankful.


Wearing the Suit of Professionalism

I loved Doug Clark’s take on the Karl Thompson/Otto Zehm issue here in Spokane. It was contrary to his usual funny, witty, and sarcastic commentaries – it was serious, eloquent, and on the mark for the truth that is going on with our police department.

He mentioned the police department’s guide for being a good police officer. (And mind you, most of our police officers follow the guideline; it is the few that are marring the reputation of the whole.)

Ten years ago, I started a chapter of a legal association in Spokane for legal secretaries and paralegals, NALS of Spokane. (NALS is a national association for the education and professionalism of non-attorney law firm personnel.) We have a series of tests we take covering laws, regulations, ethics, and skill sets that guide us in our jobs – even though we are low man on the totem pole, so to speak. A quarter of our eight-hour test covers two Code of Ethics manuals, one for attorneys and one for judges. Secretaries and paralegals follow the same principles as attorneys and judges – we follow, in fact, their Manuals. (The "Model Rules of Professional Conduct" for attorneys was created to resolve issues, like the Watergate scandal.) When I read both manuals (just as long in length as for police officers), I was struck by how it affected me. I wanted to wear the values and philosophy like a suit. I mean that I wore professionalism, integrity, ethics, high ideals, and moral fortitude. I held myself to a high standard, and my actions influenced all the staff around me, and even the attorneys. My attitude held weight for my entire firm – little old me.

When I read Clark’s article, my mind went back to the day I passed my certification test – I thought to myself that the manual police officers follow is the crux of everything wrong with the police department. They are not reading the manual. If a small peg on the board of a whole bunch of holes can read the manual and carry a whole law firm, then a police officer should be able to do it, too.