Christmas is saved…!

Last week I was looking forward to the holiday season without a care in the world.  Then I got the sad news that my grandmother passed away.  While I was still recovering from that, the very next day my car lost power just as I got to work, after deteriorating all the way there.  I work around ten miles from home so it wouldn’t have been a possibility to just turn back.

It being between pay periods, and having just bought presents for people, I was a little short on cash.  My awesome adopted work brother helped me go to a battery place at lunch and we got a used one in hopes that the alternator was still good.  Then there was a mad hunt to find a socket set so we could change out the battery… which we finally did.  My car started up and ran fine.  I was relieved.

The next morning, the car started up again and I thought everything was great.  Then, partway along the trip, I started having the same electrical problems.  I barely limped in to work, having had the engine almost quit on me several times.  It was undoubtedly the alternator.  Now, the battery had been old so that was also likely to fail, so it was good that I’d replaced it.  Yet, what in the heck was I to do without an alternator and someone to help me put it in?  They aren’t easy to reach on my car, you have to put it up on jacks and take out the oil filter.

My sweet cubemate, who has been really amazing, offered to help me get home from work.  Her husband brought a charger and extension cord so I could at least get somewhere if I had to, and we charged the battery enough for me to get home, though the trip was nerve wracking.  It was the greatest feeling to pull into my driveway!  Then they dropped the bomb.  They offered to buy the alternator and help me put it in – and I could pay them back after my next check.  Then my work brother said he’d take me to the store on Christmas Eve to pick up dinner so we didn’t have to make do with our emergency stocks.

I am very happy right now.  I intend to pay my friends back in the best of ways and continue my tradition of paying it forward.  Like my cubemate’s husband said, “This is what Americans do for each other.  Or should, anyway.”

That’s how Christmas was saved for me this year.  Miracles are what we make for each other, and I know my Grandma is watching and is happy with what they did.


Inherited Tales

Both my parents are storytellers.  I have become a storyteller too.  Deep in my family history on both sides are bards, singers, and tale spinners, hard workers who like a good joke and a laugh but can also tell a story to chill your bones.  Scotland and Ireland are lands both rich with wordplay and stories fit to warm the coldest night.

Having this inheritance, I like to use it where I can.  Considering the time of year, here’s a story that I may yet tell to someone young and make it their inheritance.

When I was a lass, and still went to church, my favorite thing to do around Yuletide was the Christmas play.  I loved the chance to don different clothes, wear a different face, play to an audience.  I probably would have loved to be in theatre.  Foreshadowing the time in high school when I would play Christopher Columbus, one year I got to play Joseph.

How exactly does one play Joseph?  He has no lines.  You might say it’s an entirely physical part.  So I, the happy actress, having thought about all this, proudly stood behind Mary, held a staff and guarded my “wife” and doll-bodied child.”  Privately, I thought I was the best Joseph there ever was, and didn’t think much of the whole gender issue.

The next year I had my dream role – an angel!  I loved angels and drew them often.  After all, they had wings and could fly, and that was just the ultimate in awesomeness to me.  Now, this particular play had a main part, Gabriel, and an ultimately infinite number of bit parts, the Multitude of the Heavenly Host.  It truly was a play designed to expand and contract to the needs of any size parish.

However, our parish was really rather small, and there weren’t that many kids for the taking.  I ended up being the only one member of the Multitude.  I was so proud of my costume with its white polyester robe and sparkly gold halo.  I even figured out how to flap the tinsel edged wings.  I was really looking forward to the play and practiced my line every chance I got.

Disaster struck!  My budding acting career was nearly cut short as I was kicked in the very chin!  To this day I can’t recall exactly how, but I think it happened at Sunday school the week before, and I had a big red mark.  It was odious!  Hideous!  How could I go on stage in such a state?  Really I’m sure it was barely visible, but I was embarrassed to go on stage.  After all, who would believe an angel with a red chin?

My intrepid dad came to the rescue.  He made up a song all about a red chinned angel, to the tune of “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.”  He made me laugh and forget my troubles.  So when the day came I donned my robe, went on stage, and said my line with pride and panache.

Now that I think of it, the Multitude were probably all male angels too.


Speaking of inherited tales, if you haven’t seen my family’s book of Holiday Tales called ‘Yuletide Lights,” you may want to give it a look.  The book is fully illustrated and consists of sixteen stories that bear quite a passing resemblance to Christmases that really happened – or nearly did.

You can see it here in paperback,

or here in eBook.




Anticipation Grows Again

Anticipation is definitely something I’ve felt around this time of year.  And who has more anticipation than a young child?   When I was little, Christmas was one of my favorite days.  I’d count down to it, plan my present giving strategy, maybe practice my lines for the yearly pageant.  I’d lay awake nights watching the beautiful Christmas lights on the tree through a myopic fog that made them look glowing and mysterious, rather like this photo.

Growing older, I’ve tried to learn to uncouple anticipation from expectation, and thus, disappointment.  Oddly, I’ve found a small glow of anticipation for the holiday season again.  It’s only been made possible by studiously ignoring all the glitz in the stores, the over inflated artificial hype.  That’s easier since my TV turns on only occasionally and I haven’t watched even one movie in quite a few months.  Commercials are my bane and I avoid them, the only ones I hear are from the radio.

With the reduction of the pressure of commercialism, I find that there is still a soft little place in my heart that I can leave open to anticipation.  I think about finding something nice to do for one of my coworkers, who seems rather lost and unloved.  I quietly plan a cookie baking day, so I can invite my neighbor over, so she, my spouse and I can bake cookies and I can teach her to bake bread.  The plan is to distribute small packages of cookies to all my close neighbors.  I think, “maybe a few strings of lights to celebrate the Winter Solstice would be  nice.”

Slowly, gently, anticipation grows again.  The holidays start to be about people I care about and doing nice things for others, as well as enjoying good food and fun times.  I remember being that kid who used to look at the Christmas tree through a half open door.


via Daily Prompt: Anticipation