As a child, Saturdays were my favorite day of the week. I remember getting up early and rushing through chores just so I could spend the afternoons watching Westerns. I had an unstable childhood, so I found comfort in the predictability of those old shoot-em-ups. When a cowboy rode into town, you just knew he would set things straight before riding into the sunset.
I also knew that when the camera zoomed onto the hero’s spurs as he walked into a saloon, the message was clear. No one had better mess with him.
I became fixated on spurs and for good reason. As a foster child, I was constantly being bounced from family to family. This meant I was forever having to change locations. But the hardest part for me was having to walk into a new school, which I did more times than I can remember. This always made me feel like an outsider. Because I was shy, thin as a rail, wore glasses, and had red hair, I endured much teasing. No one called it bullying back then, but in modern terms, that’s what it was.
After going through an especially hard first day at a new school, I remember thinking enough was enough. Would Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard or Bob Steele stand around while the town picked on them? They would not! Only ten at the time, I decided what I needed was spurs, just like my favorite western heroes wore. The next time I walked into a new school, my spurs would send a clear message that no one better mess with me.
Convinced I had an answer to my problem, I asked for spurs the following Christmas but never got them. It didn’t matter. The next time I walked into a new school, I pretended I was wearing spurs just like I’d seen one of my cowboy heroes do the previous Saturday. They only jingled in my head but, you know what? It worked. Somehow the jingle-jangle sound that only I could hear helped drown out the teasing and that made me smile. And that smile helped me do something I’d not been able to do at other schools: make new friends. It was a lesson I never forgot.
In that spirit, I wish you all a jingle-jangle holiday season filled with lots of smiles, good friends, and loving families. May all your spurs, imagined or real, be shiny ones and bring good things your way.