That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!

Well, not really. But it kinda sucked.

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. So for the first time in five years, I used several vacation days to extend my days off.  I was hoping to spend some time with my elderly grandfather, make lots of music with my aunt, see a whole bunch of movies in theatres, and spend time alone reading and writing.

On the 23rd, after a nearly perfect Christmas tree hunt,  I went downtown to meet up with a best friend to watch Jackie at Eau Claire. Thanks to the nasty roads and snowfall, he was unable to show up. So I went into a pub to catch up on emails and ordered a large serving of fish and chips. The meal was too expensive and left a bad taste in the mouth. Frustrated, I went across the street to watch the excellent film Manchester by the Sea. I went to bed around midnight, excited for my vacation to begin.

At 3:10 am I woke up with an even worse taste in my mouth. "Just get rid of it and all will be well" I told myself. That was not so easily done.

It was nine hours later that I dared swallow a sip of water. It took the next twelve hours to get rehydrated, forty hours before I dared eat a full meal, and sixty before the diarrhea stopped. I was throwing up so hard that I burst blood vessels in my left eye, resulting in two days of hazing vision  and looking like I'd survived a bar fight rather than food poisoning. It's now been four days and I'm still exhausted.

I'm surprised how easy I've fallen into despair. To not find enjoyment in the rich gifts around us is expected, for they can quickly grow old. But not finding hope and comfort on the truths and power of prayer and scripture is verging on inexcusable. I have so much to learn!

And then I saw reports of friends' Christmases. A trip to the emergency room on Christmas Day because an infant daughter is chocking. A Christmas Eve in the hospital due to colitis. A wife whose brain tumour has resulted in a hand refuses to recover and is throbbing with pain. Or even worse: a miscarriage.

So I resolve to enjoy these next few days off. It will be easy to look back with regret on time wasted and memories ruined. It will be tempting to find joy solely in the music I'll play, the movies I'll see, the friends I'll meet, the quite time I'll savour. What's the alternative? Perhaps it's knowing that these circumstances exist to humble us, to re-anchor us in something greater than the well-being that we have built up around us, that bursts so easily. When I am made aware of that again, contentment is possible. I can rest in someone outside of myself.