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Posts Tagged ‘christmas story’

Lately I have struggled and searched to join the masses in feeling the joy of the holidays. The spirit was sadly eluding me and I longed for inspiration to find me so that I might write for all of you in honor the celebration just days away.

Yesterday the spirit of the season came to me through a quiet knock on my front storm door. It was above freezing outside, just barely. A meager snow that had fallen the day before had begun to melt some and was slush on the street out front. But in the shadow of my house, the sidewalk there was still in ice and snow.

I opened my door actually expecting to see a client who was on the way to pick up a computer I had fixed for her. Instead, I was greeted by a young boy, who had recently become a neighbor. He stood silent there on my porch. He said nothing, but had a broad smile on his face and snow shovel in his hand, blade to the top. The handle had been resting on my porch, but he raised it up a bit and smiled even broader. I asked him if “he thought I should use it to clean my walk?”, but he just said no. I told him “if he did that for me, I would give him a bit of money”…He just smiled again and turned to walked down the porch steps, still having said but a word or two. And still this great young kid wore that wonderful smile that can win over the day, which was by coincidence the winter solstice.

As I heard the blade start to scrape the concrete and ice, my mind wandered back to another frozen sidewalk…Back to the north a few hundred miles and forty five long years ago. Another boy had shovel in hands, and chipped away at a hard frozen layer of ice and snow, clearing a span of sidewalk without a fee in mind.

The day before, my Momma had been walking on that walk and slipped to fall and broke several of the small bones that joined arm to hand. I felt a duty and need to go make the world a safer place for her to walk, a less hazardous place to weather the British Columbia winter.

So with shovel in hand and winter clothes over all, I set out to honor my due as a boy with a cast-wearing mom. And as I recall, it was likely the first time dealing with such a chore, and I was a scrub of a boy, winded and sweaty as I made safe passage for all that ventured there…perhaps too little too late, but my life as a protector was about to begin.

I was just seven or eight years old then…rather small and in the middle of seven kids born to my folks. It wasn’t a time of prosperity. And having to share the needs and desires of life with so many siblings often left a kid with more of a tendency to spend hours browsing through the ‘Simpsons-Sears” (the Canadian version of America’s Sears and Roebucks) winter “wish book”. And I also recall being more than envious of some of the kids of more affluent families thereabouts who often kindly shared their bounty of gifts with me at play time.

I was old enough to believe otherwise, but I still harbored close the belief in Santa, in his ability to somehow know of my wants and wishes…And perhaps it was that same year that I was again to have my belief validated. Made true in the discovery of a new red bicycle in the living room there on Christmas dawn. I had always ridden well-worn and used bikes until then. It might not have been a Schwinn with a drag slick in back and a springer front fork with a small wheel up front, and banana seat and high bars and a five speed shifter, and all that (I still want one of those)…But it was mine. It was brand new, and Santa had heard me and delivered it to the side of the tree! Whew! I get breathless just remembering.

And not only did I believe in old St Nick. I was also being given insight to the true meaning of Christmas, sent to Catechism on Wednesday evenings, attended services on Sundays there at the Catholic Church in Abbotsford…I even had my first communion during that time in the Western most Province. I was far from a saint and had more than my share of trouble inside…and I needed all the help given my parents and siblings. But I was in truth being given the tools I would need later in life.

I will share that I was a troubled soul even then. I was in fact a bit of a brat. I admit that I often felt perhaps I was less that loveable, at times undeserving of favor by Santa, of blessings by God. I can also share that I was never slighted by Santa, even when I was caught peeking at gifts under the tree and otherwise spoiled Christmas for myself. But Santa came through, and my family and God too still loved me.

And as far as God loving me, I found strong evidence of that when I was riding my shiny red bike along a busy thoroughfare, and somehow got in the way of a very large Cadillac. I was to be sent through the air quite a ways, and deposited on my little melon. But I never lost consciousness, nor did I break a bone. I was treated to a headache and a visit to the hospital directly across the street from the accident scene. And my very bent shiny red bicycle was in turn repaired by my father and put back in service in short order.

While reflecting on the events from my past as that smiling boy scraped snow and ice from my walk, I dipped into the cup in my bathroom where I keep all my change. I pulled ten quarters out of it and joined that boy on the sidewalk. I handed them to him, and told him there were ten of them in his gloved hand. I quizzed him in math by asking him how much they added up to. For a minute we reasoned and multiplied, added and figured the issue successfully. He is a pretty bright boy.

I returned to my house and waited to see if he would end his efforts now that he had been paid. I was rewarded by the resumption of the sounds of scraping and chipping by the shovel wielding boy. And I rewarded the honorable young man by returning to the sidewalk with a couple cookies. I inquired then of his age, and through a smile he replied that he was eleven. I looked at this great kid there in his sweat pants and baggy sweat coat, and mittens, with a mussed up healthy head of hair. I asked what his name was. He told me, “I’m Richard, at school the kids call me Richie, but you can call me Richard or Richie, whichever you want.”

I said, “thank you Richie…you’re a good kid”. He smiled and I went back inside. I felt a sigh while knowing I had found there on my porch in a smiling and earnest boy named Richard or Richie, the very spirit of Christmas that had been eluding me, escaping me. In a ten minute span, I was again gifted through the present and the past my belief in Santa, in family, in Christmas, in the reasons for the season, Jesus and God…and in fact; in ME.

There have been many reminders come flooding to me since those divine minutes of yesterday afternoon, and many good souls have reached out to me to reinforce the spirit of things…

But most of all, I found the young boy in me again through the boy on my porch. And I know that this year Christmas found me standing there on my porch through a boy named Richie with a shovel, a smile, an already admirable work ethic…and a spirit to remind me of what I’ve been missing so far since Thanksgiving had faded in my mind.

Thanks to Richie, to Santa, my parents, and to a generous God, I can wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I remind you to hug your folks, to embrace your family, to thank God for sending us his only Son…and to open your minds, hearts, arms, and doors…’cause you never know what you might find…

Thanks Momma and Dad. Love, Matthew Lyle…

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