I had an amazing Christmas in our new house, and had most of our family here and it was lovely! I can’t wait to post some photos on my blog, but I have week of guest post for you, from great people I know, and I am even more excited to share them with you.
I had to kick it off with this post from a great family friend of ours Julian Hazel. You’ll want to read it over and over again.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
This story starts out (as all good Christmas tales do) with a car accident.
It’s an accident that I never witnessed, though I have seen it a hundred times. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It was a few years ago, I was in my early 20’s (Ok several years), and I was working hard to support my fledgling family. I had a beautiful wife, a beautiful daughter, and empty pockets. But I had steady work, and on the whole good people to work with. One of those good people had become a great friend. We had bonded over sci-fi and a shared interest in documentaries. We’d spent hours on the assembly line sweating and chatting – one minute about aeroplanes used in the Second World War and the next about weak story points in old Star Trek episodes.
Now, this friend had decided to move East to make a new life for himself. He wanted a fresh start. It was a sad day for me when he moved, but I was happy for him. That is until a few weeks later when I heard that he had died. I was absolutely gutted. He had been out partying one night. He decided to drive home. It was icy. He was going too fast or not fast enough, I’m not too sure. He was hit by another driver. The other driver was drunk too. Everybody died. I just couldn’t make sense of it. It was the same thing every night when I fell asleep. I would hear the horrific sound of metal binding and tearing as the two vehicles collided, though I would see only black. And then, as though I was lying on the side of the hard, cold, icy road I would see his face close up. His cheek would be torn, but his eyes stared at me with a panicked and desperate look. I could hear his heart pounding slowly, breaths panted out in weak white clouds that were quickly stolen by the night. Then it would stop. His eyes would still be locked to mine, but the light of life was snuffed out of them. Then I would blink and once again hear that earth-shattering crunch and the dream would start all over again. Every single moment was in crystal clarity and would loop over and over and over and over. I asked for prayer at my church. I even considered counselling.
There was a highway where I couldn’t make a left turn without crying because it brought everything flooding back to me. It made me so angry. I was angry with my friend for making the wrong choice. I was angry with the person who had hit his car. I was angry that he died in a manner unworthy of his character. Most of all, I was angry that a twenty dollar cab fare would have saved my friend’s life. It made me so furious. His life was worth so much more than twenty dollars. It was. My life went on. The dreams continued and I was profoundly affected. The company I worked for was only of medium size with a hundred or so employees, so everybody knew, and everybody was upset. It was tough.
Christmas was coming, and I was pretty broke. We were trying to get by on one income when we had barely gotten by when my wife worked a full time job. So things were pretty tight. Things were in fact so tight that we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree. We just couldn’t. I looked at all the trees in all the discount lots outside of all the big box stores and there was nothing under thirty dollars. It just didn’t work. I knew that my job was giving away turkeys on the last day of work before the Christmas break, and we had a present or two for each other. We would be full of turkey and together on Christmas and when you are young and in love, this is enough. But I wanted a tree. I didn’t want there to be even one year where we didn’t have a Christmas tree. It was vain pride, but I needed to provide for my family. “Big deal,” I said to myself “worse things have happened.”
It was the final day of work before the plant shut down for Christmas. Not a lot of actual work was getting done. Everyone had brought in baked goods and was circulating through all of the departments wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. We were half-heartedly sweeping or “fine-tuning” product, but everyone was pregnant with anticipation of the break to come. Then, there was a change in the mood. There was a buzz going through the plant that was so much more than just the hope of an upcoming turkey dinner. I looked around, trying to figure out what was going on. The air was electric. The department manager came up to me and said “He’s alive!” The man was as white as a ghost “He just called to wish me a Merry Christmas!”
I had to be told three times before I could believe it. I cleaned up my tools, shook the owners’ hands, picked up my free turkey, and nearly ran to my car. I had a twenty dollar bill in my pocket and I had to get milk before I went home. I just couldn’t tell my wife this kind of news over the phone. I was pulling into a parking space in front of Superstore when my phone rang. It was my friend! We talked and I laughed while crying – which is not easy to do. It turned out that it had been a malicious rumour spread by some friends who didn’t agree with his decision to move. It was all just a sick joke. We talked for a while and then I hung up the phone, convinced fully for the first time that it was actually true.
I stumbled towards the store nearly drunk with happiness when I saw the poster-board sign scrawled in felt-tip – “Scotch Fir Trees, $12.50!” I couldn’t contain myself! I ran through that yard until I found the tallest tree there. It only clocked in at five and a half feet, but it was enough. I grabbed a carton of milk, put my twenty dollars on the counter, and even walked out with some change in my pocket! I raced home and stood at my door feeling every bit a king. My beautiful wife opened the door holding our baby. I had tears streaming down my face and it all came tumbling out of me. The whole story, the whole day, and in the end she wrapped her arms around me and I kept saying the same thing “he’s alive, he’s alive, I can’t believe it. He’s alive!” I had told so many of my friends and family about the accident and had sought different people’s advice about how to deal with my grief.
I had the privilege of telling every single one of them that my friend was all right. It took until the third or fourth person before I realised what a unique position I was in. I was going from person to person telling them that my friend who was dead, was now alive again. It was easy to say, it was exciting, I am electrified even now – years later – at the very remembrance of it! I couldn’t help but think about the twelve men who saw their friend and teacher die before their eyes. Who saw him whipped, and humiliated, saw him give his last breath hung between criminals. He died in a manner unworthy of his character. For days the entire movement started by this man was in turmoil. It was disbanded and disgraced. But then something happened. This man who had been dead, was alive again. But it was no cheap trick that had killed him the first place but the malice of Pharisees and Roman wood and steel. He was dead and those that had seen it, had seen it with more than just their minds eye in the dead of night.
But now – but now he was alive again!
And it was easy for them to tell people. It was easy to spread the good news. It changed everything, absolutely everything.
So this year, as I have every year since, when I put up my Christmas tree I remember my friend.I remember all the nights I awoke in a cold sweat. I remember the day that I found out that he was alive. I remember that this is the time that we celebrate the fact that God sent His child to this earth not just to die, but to defeat death once and for all. More so, this defeat was not just for one man, but through one man it was made available to all humanity.
The second greatest Christmas story ever told is only amazing because it let me experience in some small measure the life-altering consequences and hope of the greatest Christmas story. That hope is the reason that we should all have a very merry Christmas.
Julian lives with his wife and 4 children in a small Southern Alberta town, he is a strong leader in the church, and has fuelled my husband’s love for all things nerdy, but I forgive him.