A Magical Christmas Moment.


“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there …” 

Truck 1It took an entire year for me to get in touch with my inner Scrooge, so when the holidays approached I just wasn’t buying into the whole jolly ol’ St. Nick routine. But yesterday something magical happened and I suddenly found that holly-jolly bounce back in my step. Most of that jolly bounce came from the Syrah but what also had me caroling, caroling, caroling was a weird (but true) encounter with the Christmas spirit – and I’m not talking about the eggnog.

I haven’t been feeling the Christmas spirit because I’ve had “a little” bad luck this year, which is kind of like saying California needs “a little” rain. I don’t want to imply that I’m suddenly accident prone, but when flying to California, my wife Caroline insists on separate planes.

My year started out well enough. I sold my fine wine store after almost 20 years and I was looking forward to landing a job where I might have Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve off. I spent several months living and looking for work in Napa Valley, but I couldn’t find a winery in need of an intelligent, energetic, creative, fifty-something wine professional whose complete resume can be found on LinkedIn.

I started a new wine brokerage business in California and after filing for my LLC in Sacramento I decided to commemorate the occasion by taking a picture of the capitol building with my BlackBerry. Those of you with kids know why I still carry a Blackberry. Children snatch your upgrades leaving you with a new phone about once every 12 years. I’m lucky my phone doesn’t have a retractable antenna.

I waited for the traffic light to change, looked both ways, and walked into the crosswalk. I saw a car in the corner of my eye and I was wondering why it was getting bigger. Then it hit me. I landed head-over-heels on top of the car, firmly smashing my BlackBerry on the hood. I wasn’t seriously hurt except for the obvious confusion my lawyer later told me I experienced about not being seriously hurt. The colorful bruise on my ass said “Lexus” backwards but the BlackBerry was just fine.

About a month later Caroline called me on my cell as I was walking down the stairs to my office. I looked at my phone and missed the last step – making what happened next entirely her fault. I was propelled belly-first across the floor as the BlackBerry crashed into the opposite wall. I heard the ‘pop’ of my Achilles tendon and the cleaning lady heard several colorful New Jersey colloquialisms. Once again my BlackBerry survived but this time there was a text on it that read, “I don’t think this is included in your plan”. It was signed, “Your Black & BlueBerry”. Some people have smartphones. I have a smart-ass phone.

BlackBerry owners are kind of like a cult. The stigma of owning a BlackBerry is hard to bear but there’s comfort in knowing there are others like me who conceal the tiny shame in their pants.

My wife told me to “man upCaroline in hospital and walk it off” but I opted for surgery instead. When the nurse asked me my blood type I said, “I think it’s “O” but I’m not positive.”

She pulled out a needle and I suddenly developed irritable bowel syndrome. My wife understands my aversion to needles and in a soothing voice she said, “You’ll be fine. This is the same surgeon who performed the last operation on Joan Rivers.”

So as Christmas approached my body was on the mend but my mood was still playing catch-up. Each Christmas my family exchanges gifts through the time honored “Secret Santa” method. We submit our names to some sort of magical website that pulls them out of a cyber-hat in a way that manages to keep everyone happy. We also submit a list of gifts we would like to receive and just for fun we tag on a “dream wish” that we’d like to experience. We usually hear wishes like “a house in the Hamptons, a new Lamborghini, or a romantic weekend with Justin Bieber” – and that’s just from the guys. Last year I made a secret dream wish but everyone is coming over for Christmas anyway.

When it comes to dream wishes I’m a man of deep contemplation, concerned with the human condition and the fulfillment of mankind’s potential – at least during commercials – so when considering my dream wish this year the usual ideas like world peace, a cure for cancer, or being a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance somehow seemed insignificant compared to a year free from injuries. The only dream wish I wanted was GOOD HEALTH and I’m sticking to it even if it kills me. At the very least I’ll settle for not getting run over by a car in 2015.

I didn’t find my Christmas spirit after submitting my dream wish, my Christmas spirit found me. Caroline and I were walking out of the local market when a shiny red Chevy Silverado pickup truck pulled up next to us. When the window rolled down we could see the inside was decked out in bright Christmas ornaments. Sitting behind the wheel was this jolly round guy with white hair and a big white beard wearing wire-rimmed spectacles and a Santa hat. He had on a suede jacket with long fringe hanging off the sleeves (like the one Dennis Hopper wore in Easy Rider) but underneath I could see he was wearing a red Santa suit.

He leaned over and said, “Merry Christmas!”

Caroline smiled broadly and replied, “Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas Santa. How are you doing?”

“Oh fine, just fine!” he beamed. “You two have everything you need for Christmas this year?”

“Yes we do Santa. Thanks and have a good holiday!” Caroline said as we continued walking.

But the Silverado kept pace with us and I was feeling a little uneasy because this Santa/biker dude was staring deep into my eyes.

“You sure you’re all set for the new year?” he asked me.

“Yes Santa, thanks for asking. Merry Christmas.” I tugged on Caroline’s arm to signal her to keep moving.

But Biker Santa’s twinkling eyes were boring right into me and I felt like I couldn’t look away. He pointed at me and whispered, “I know what you want. It’s all anyone can wish for,” then loudly added, “GOOD HEALTH to you this coming year!”

My mouth dropped open and I stammered, “Wha? How did you …”

Cavernous dimples formed behind Santa’s beard as a big smile spread across his face. When he put a finger to the side of his nose the window rolled up and the red pickup truck pulled away.

“… with a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.”     Clement Clarke Moore

So my Christmas faith has been restored and I’ve also come to realize how much I have to be thankful for. My family and friends have been here throughout my injury and they’ve helped me through the long recovery. I’m incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such loving and giving people and a man couldn’t have a better dream wish than that.

Have a Happy Holiday and GOOD HEALTH to one and all in the New Year.

P.S. Santa, could you also bring me a smart-phone?