I have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. I suppose I had a lot to be thankful last Christmas though, too. I guess the underlying lesson is that Christmas helps me realize things I am thankful for.
Last Christmas started with me posting this early in the morning. I was alone, as the family I lived with was away in the southwest United States visiting relatives and my own family was enjoying a mild-weathered Christmas in Japan. I had an entire house to myself, and I was planning a rather laid-back Christmas day. I had opened presents with my family via iChat video conference the night before (Christmas morning their time), and with no presents to open or parties to go to on actual Christmas Day, I had a lot of free time.
The day started with the usual breakfast and dressing, and then I decided to take a nice long Christmas drive in my sports car. (I probably am still one of the few who drives alone for the sole pleasure of driving.) I walked out to my car only to find that I had left the headlights on for the past day or so (I didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve, so I stayed in) and my battery was dead. Undaunted I pulled out keys to one of the family cars and pulled it near to jump-start my Nissan. A successful jump later and I was on my way, cruising merrily along the Pennsylvania countryside. Then my car started choking. And bucking. And coughing. And flashing the dash lights. and then it died. I sighed. I had no idea where I was.
I got out of my car and walked around, trying to find the nearest intersection so I could phone my friend Shanan who was still in town and tell her where I was. I couldn’t find an intersection, so I decided to hang out outside my car and read a book until someone drove past whom I could hail. I kept a collapsable chair in my trunk (the colored kind that you get at Wal-mart), so I set that up, took out my copy of David Bowie’s biography by David Buckley, and started reading.
I hadn’t gotten far when a white Silverado crew cab pulled up next to me and asked me if everything was OK. I motioned to my open hood and asked if they had jumper cables. They did, and soon I was jumped and running. I drove maybe a block, however, before my car exhibited the same symptoms and promptly died once again. What a great Christmas so far!
Undaunted, I decided to call my friend Kirah, who I thought lived somewhere nearby. After a brief conversation during which I attempted to describe my whereabouts, she told me that she and her dad would be willing to drive out and find me. Yay for generous friends!
They arrived in their white GMC Sierra sooner than they thought they would (apparently I really had no idea where I was and described somewhere much farther away) and I was jumped once again. We let both cars run for awhile to make sure my car charged sufficiently this time, and soon I was driving, with Kirah riding shotgun, to her house. Her dad thought that my alternator had gone, but since no garage was open on Christmas, was going to allow me to park my car at their house.
Once at their house, they decided that it would be only proper to have me join them for their Christmas dinner. I was taken aback, self-conscious, and incredibly grateful all at the same time. Taken aback at the sudden change in my afternoon plans, grateful for their generosity, and incredibly self-conscious because I had dressed for a morning drive, not for a family Christmas dinner. I was wearing ratty jeans, sneakers, and a threadbare sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. The sweatshirt was blue with cows on it, and it was worn over a white long-sleeve pajama shirt. I could not possibly have been any more underdressed.
I ended up staying at their house for the rest of the day, enjoying a incredibly tasty meal, fellowship over games afterwards, and meeting many engaging people related to Kirah in one way or another. I’m sure I apologized for my appearance on the hour, but Kirah kept assuring me that it was OK, even though I didn’t believe her. She was even willing to drive me home (a ten minute drive away) very late at night after the party was all over. It was indeed a Christmas that I did not expect.
As I sat in my room and reflected on the day, I listed things that I was thankful for. I was thankful that my car only needed a new alternator. I was thankful that I had broken down near Kirah’s house instead of somewhere far away. I was thankful for mild weather that I could sit outside in. For good food. For fellowship. For warmth indoors as the temperature outside dropped. For friends. All the things that I usually took for granted were suddenly brought to light. Heck, that in itself was enough to be thankful for.
Narrative of this years Christmas experience coming soon!