Last night something happened. For the first time this season I got in the Christmas spirit. What triggered it ? Well I will tell you but you need to wait until you get to the end of this essay.
Monday morning I woke up around 4:00 am in Palm Desert to catch a 6:30 am flight from Palm Springs to Salt Lake City. Although I usually wake up early, it seems as though when I get up early to fly back to Salt Lake it seems too early. After a goodbye kiss from a sleepy Lovely Sharon, I drove through the dark desert morning to the airport. It was so early that when I arrived at the airport even the car rental companies were not yet open. I left my key in the Budget Car Rental key box and made my way to security. I made it through security relatively quickly and headed to gate 18. As I waited in the terminal, I looked at my fellow travelers. Everyone looked sleepy or otherwise subdued; no smiles, no laughter and really no conversation. People were reading papers, drinking coffee and listening to overhead boarding announcements. I finally got on the plane and sat in Seat 2C, an aisle seat on the Canadair Regional Jet. I tried to read but ultimately fell asleep for almost 45 minutes. We arrived in Salt Lake and I was at my desk by 10:00. My Monday work week had started.
During the week I had a number of client meetings phone conferences, contracts to draft and a court hearing in federal court. Monday and Tuesday were unusually warm in Salt Lake and snow from the previous storms had melted. The green grass again was visible. It didn’t feel like Christmas, it felt like March. My Salt Lake house does not look like Christmas either, no tree, no presents, no decorations and for that matter no people, just me. Coming home from work each late afternoon to cold and quiet house certainly did not feel Christmassy. Tuesday night I had dinner with 8 or 10 fellows from my Thursday golf group, each of them dear friends. It was a wonderful evening of friendship, laughter and man hugs. These fellows mean a lot to me but the evening did not trigger a Christmas feeling in me. I was happy but I did not yet have the feeling of Christmas joy in my heart. You know the feeling; it’s a different feeling than just happy. It’s a feeling of peace on earth good will to all. The feeling that Ebenezer Scrooge felt when he awoke on Christmas morning after a night of seeing Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future,
Wednesday morning I awoke to find that it had snowed heavily over night. The yard, driveway and walks were covered in snow. It was cold, it looked like winter but still I was not yet in that elusive Christmas spirit. It just felt like life as normal.
On Friday, I delivered blankets, clothes, diapers and other items to a giving program I have been involved with for the last 21 years. The recipients are the Rescue Mission, Women and Children in Jeopardy and a program that feeds the homeless under one of Salt Lake City’s viaducts. Some years making this delivery puts me in the Christmas spirit, but for some reason not this year. On my way to the place of delivery, the Utah State Bar Association building, I was on the cell phone talking to a client about a number of issues concerning his business. Almost absent mindedly, I dropped off the donations that were in my car. From there I drove to a craftsman who was blocking and cleaning six of my fedoras. I was sort of irritated because the hats were supposed to be ready the previous week but they weren’t and now only four were done. I need to go back again for a third time next week to picked the remaining two hats.
After the hat store, I stopped at an office supply store, a drug store and then home. Home was too quiet for a December, Friday afternoon. I walked from one room to another, but none seemed inviting, they just felt like rooms, even the Bud Cave. I decided to go to a movie. The theater was full of couples and groups of folks quietly talking waiting for the movie to start. I selected a seat on the far side, away from every one and watched the movie. It was very cold when I left the theatre to find my car. The house was still quiet when I arrived home. I microwaved some frozen food for dinner.
After eating dinner, I finally turned on the television and was surfing through the channels and came upon show called “Christmas in Washington”. This was a musical program from Washington D.C. that was attended my many, including the President, his wife and daughters. There were a number of performers and a large chorus. As I sat on my sofa, the sounds of Silent Night, O Holy Night, and Away in a Manager filled the Bud Cave.
It struck me how much I love Christmas music, particularly the old traditional songs, the ones that seem to stir your sole or give you chills when the volume is cranked up. I was humming with the songs coming from the TV. As the President sat in the audience, his arm was draped around the shoulder of his oldest daughter. The youngest daughter was leaning against the First Lady, holding hands, mother and daughter. Somehow listening to these beloved Christmas songs and watching the first family looking like any other American family at Christmas turned the light of Christmas spirit on inside of me. When the program finally ended, I felt at peace. I felt Christmas joy. I realized again that Christmas does mean something to me apart from gifts, from commercialization and from hoards of shoppers. For me it is a time to contemplate my actions of the last year. Was I helpful to others, did I show kindness and love enough to those around me? Did I help the unfortunate as much as I could have? Were my actions worthy of the spiritual gifts of Christmas that we have all received? Probably not. I need to do better.
Today is a new day, Christmas is still week away and just like Ebenezer Scrooge awakening on Christmas morning with joy in his heart and relief that there was still time left to do right, there is time for me and time for you to do something for others. Something that means something.
Merry Christmas to each of you.
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