It’s the little things.

Christmas dinner almost turned into a vegetarian affair for the carnivorous Masons this year. It began with an early Christmas present from neighbor friends who learned of our interest in frying a turkey for the Feast of the Nativity. We read up on recipes and salivated over the succulence of a bird boiled in peanut oil.

So, after opening boxes from Santa, my son and I opened the box containing the new stainless steel, propane-fueled turkey fryer. I read the instructions word for word (really). I even highlighted the key parts of the manual with a yellow marker so that I would be on top of things. But alas, having carefully unpacked all the parts, cardboarded the driveway at least ten feet from the garage, and seasoned the fully thawed 22-pound turkey just right, we discovered that the unit could not be assembled because someone failed to include the hex nuts for the bolts that would secure the base. NUTS!

Nineteen hungry dinner guests would begin arriving just before 3 p.m. At 12:30 p.m. we realized we had no spare nuts and that the hardware stores were all closed. At 1 p.m. I arrived at the garage of my friend and homebuilder, a man whose garage looks like a hardware store. Apparently, these bolts required special nuts, which further drove me nuts. I determined to revert to Duct Tape, since that seems to work on most anything. But by 1:30 p.m. I was running around like a turkey with its head cut off. We were no closer to fried bird but much closer to the veggie plate special.

A desperate call to friends who owned a turkey fryer led to a Christmas bailout. The headless bird (not me) went into the oil at 2 p.m. and came out at 3 p.m., about fifteen minutes too soon as it turned out (microwaves are God’s gift to embarrassed cooks).

Why did this happen? It all goes back to one anonymous person packing a box and failing to include a little package of hex nuts. Just a little thing put the hex on our holiday.

People make mistakes. That’s life. But the consequences of not paying careful attention are often much greater than an anxious Christmas dinner. You take your eyes off the road while driving, and you might kill someone — maybe yourself. You take your mind off your parenting and get absorbed in your work or your hobbies, and your kids may wander off the straight and narrow. You take your lover for granted on Valentine’s Day, and you send a signal that your heart isn’t in the relationship.

Little things done consistently with care demonstrate love better than the occasional grand gesture.

Zoo Daddies — those divorced fathers who wow their children on the weekends with special treats — are only popular for a while. But the fathers (married or single) who leave a lasting impression of love on their kids are the ones who call frequently, help with schoolwork when they can, and show up at the ballgames and dance recitals.

It’s one thing for God to have flung the stars and planets into space with such divine flair. It’s another thing for God to keep them running their courses in the heavens day after dependable day. It’s one thing for God to so love the world that God sent the only begotten Son, as Christians claim. It’s another thing that God so loves the world to stay with it through all the seasons of life.

A friend of mine who likes aphorisms summarizes the right wisdom with this one: Do it. Do it right. Do it right now. When we don’t, the world tilts slightly off its axis.

“To err is human, to forgive divine,” said Alexander Pope. But Ben Franklin was equally right: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

George Mason is pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church. The Worship section is a regular feature underwritten by Advocate Publishing and by the neighborhood business people and churches listed on these pages. For information about helping support the Worship section, call 214.560.4202.