It’s Derby Day!

In my high school wrestling-ruled town, my negative opinion about sports in general frequently puts me at odds with friends and neighbors. But there is one sporting event I indulge in every year: the Kentucky Derby.
Maybe it’s because my mom’s side of the family tree is from Kentucky (she grew up in Louisville, pronounced luuuh-ville). My grandfather still lives there.
When I was ten, I wanted a pair of Nike sneakers; the white leather ones with the red “swoosh” on the side and the little blue stripe in the sole. I coveted those shoes. Was that, perhaps, the start of my love of trendy footwear? It was 1980, and those shoes cost $40. My mother could not reconcile $40 for a pair of shoes I would grow out of in six months with my obsessive need to have them. I understand her point of view a little better these days.
We compromised on a pair of red and white nylon cheapo tennies. In my fourth-grade class photo, my feet (visible only because the short people had to sit on the front row) gleam as if they have encountered the presence of God during the transfiguration of Christ. I hated those shoes.
My aunt was still in Louisville at the time. Somehow my need for those shoes entered into a phone conversation about her going to the track. I don’t remember who suggested I place a bet on the race, but I ended up sending my bet to my aunt. The morning of the race she called and read me the names of the horses in the field. I picked the one whose name I liked best, in spite of the face it had 20-1 odds. It won, to everyone’s shock, and I was the proud owner of $40. And a new pair of Nikes. My mother was traumatized, concerned that I was headed for membership in Gambler’s Anonymous. Funny, I haven’t bet on anything since.
I watch the Derby almost every year, to the consternation of my children. I don’t follow the field, place any bets, examine the odds, know the stables, or have a racing form. What is it that draws me every year? For me, I think it’s the fact that the race never fails to remind me of how awesome it feels to beat the odds and win.
You’re probably facing something right now where the “odds” are against you. It could be overcoming cancer, or finding a job, or saving your marriage. We’ve all got places in our lives where the bets are not on our side. Take heart. Nothing is impossible. Enjoy the Derby this afternoon!

2 thoughts on “It’s Derby Day!

  1. Jody Hedlund says:

    What an adorable blog you have, Niki! I’ve seen your face on a few other blogs that I follow and just wanted to come over and say Hi! I homeschool too and it is really challenging to juggle everything!

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