Month: December 2021

Merry Christmas in 2021

 

 

Here we are, heading into another COVID Christmas, and with the Omicron variant just to heighten the worry. Not how most of us expected or wanted to spend Christmas 2021. Still, if one considers the first Christmas, the holy family were away from home, with no room at the inn, under at foreign ruler, paying onerous taxes, and with a birth imminent. Cutting down on big gatherings may not be such a hardship.

To cheer my readers, I’ve written a Christmas short story — something to do while you are not visiting. It is available through my newsletter. You’ll have to sign up for my newsletter to get the whole thing. I use a two-step verification method so you’ll receive an e-mail asking you to confirm your sign-up. Then you get the rest of the story. 

 

Miracle on My Street

             “How big is that turkey?” Her husband, Brad, looked doubtfully at the monstrous bird resting on the counter.

            “Twenty-five pounds.” Gillian pursed her lips and walked around the counter, considering the bird from all directions.

            “What?” Brad’s voice rose in a kind of shriek. “How many are we feeding?”

            “I’m not sure.” She ran her fingers through her hair scrunching the curls between her fingers.

            “You do remember that we still have to keep gatherings small? COVID isn’t finished with us yet.”

            “I know. Only Melanie and her family are coming for Christmas dinner.”

            “So why the giant bird?”

            “Not really sure.” She shrugged. “I was standing in the grocery store looking for a small one when this man told me to buy the big one.”

            “You let a stranger decide our Christmas dinner?”

            “Not entirely,” she defended herself. “I could have said no, but there was just something about his certainty.” She shrugged and pulled a wry face. “I had the strangest feeling we’d need lots of food.” She poked a finger into the frozen breast. “We can always use left-overs.”

            “Until Easter,” Brad growled.

            “I can make care packages for the boys.” She scooped the giant turkey into her arms and wrestled it into the refrigerator. “Tim and Josh live close enough for a quick outdoor visit.”

            “Not sure your daughters-in-law will thank you. They’ll have made their own preparations.”

            “I’ve already bought the turkey, Brad.” She glowered at her husband, piling her general crankiness onto his shoulders. Christmas was supposed to be a season of good will, but their house thrummed with tension. The argument over the turkey was just a symptom of the general malaise in their household. She missed her friends and her daughter. Brad missed the office and his sons. Even with restrictions easing, they both missed the life they’d had before the pandemic.

            “What about Aunt Ethel?”

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Wishing everyone a happy and safe Christmas season.

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Still Good Will

In 2018 I published a series of “good will” posts on this blog. I thought they made good reading for the Christmas season. The stories resonated with readers.

Now, as we enter our second COVID Christmas, I wonder if good will is hiding out in the attic or buried at the bottom of the garden. It sure doesn’t seem very evident.  We are worn down with restrictions, disappointments, cancelled plans. We are fearful of our fellow human beings — they might give us a deadly virus. We all know more about supply chains than we ever thought possible. Empty store shelves bring home the reality of economies in tatters world wide. There are no choristers singing on street corners, no shop clerks wearing Santa hats and wide smiles. Even if there is a smile, we can’t see it under the mask. 

Here, in B.C. we’ve had the added devastation of three “atmospheric rivers” dumping a month’s worth of rain in only a few hours. Rivers have flooded, dykes have been breached. All of the roads leading into Vancouver from the rest of Canada have been closed with mudslides, washed out bridges, and small lakes forming in the driving lanes. This year, it seems we’re in a season of disaster rather than good will.

And yet . . . in the midst of our terrible storms with bridges washing away and landslides sweeping vehicles off the road, comes this story of good will. 

A family travelling home on Sunday night was suddenly caught in a massive mudslide that shoved their van off the highway, rolled it twice down an embankment, shattered the windows, covered them in mud and even tore the shoes from their feet. The van came to rest against two trees above a raging river. 

Even though one of the passengers, a teenager, was grievously injured the family knew they had to get back up to the roadway before the storm swept away the trees and their tenuous support. 

Unbeknownst to the family, they were caught between two mudslides. Outside help could not reach them. Instead, strangers of good will came to the rescue.

Desperate, the father in the car sloshed the mud out of his eyes and mouth, then stumbled up the embankment, crossing a downed power line on the way. He knocked on the window of the first car. Inside was an off-duty ER nurse. She gave him a headlamp, then, while he went back to his family, she organized help.

Marooned on the highway,  were not only the ER nurse, but a paediatric nurse, a member of military reserve, a couple with a warm truck who offered shelter to the first child able to get out of the van and up to the highway, and an industrial painter with a van that allowed the most seriously injured teenager to lie down while the nurses assessed him.

The reservist was quick to help but realized an injured boy would not be able to scramble up the embankment on his own. Fortunately, the soldier had a rope in his truck and was able to tie it to a utility pole at the top of the embankment and use it to help the injured to safety. The 6 foot 2 lad with the head injury had to be literally pushed up the bank with his dad and the soldier supporting him from behind and the nurse pulling him from the front and lighting the way with a borrowed headlamp.

Once everyone was back on the road and sheltering in vehicles with kind strangers, a search and rescue team arrived from the closest town. They had to haul their stretchers through the debris field, 75 metres wide, caused by the slide and then, with the stricken boy loaded up, scramble back through the same obstacles to get to the ambulance waiting on the other side.

One by one, the SAR team got the family of five through the slide field and on to safety and medical aid.  Father and sons were taken to a small hospital where gashes were stitched up, a broken arm set, and eyes filled with mud and glass fragments washed out. However, the head injury was serious and needed quick attention. 

Going above and beyond, a medical team from a hospital on the other side of the blocked road organized to bring their ICU team to the injured teen. Two doctors, a nurse and a respiratory therapist got a police escort over flooded roads and a gravel pit to the train tracks. A railway vehicle then drove them to the small hospital, where they treated the teen, who had a skull fracture and a jaw broken in two places. Once the lad was stabilized and the immediate danger to his life passed, they got through to the air ambulance who air-lifted him to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

The rest of the family was fed and clothed and sheltered by strangers in the small town.

Today, the family swept up in the landslide is safely at home, recovering from their injuries and looking forward to Christmas. They are forever grateful to the heroes who put aside their own comfort and safety to rescue them on that awful night.

 

Peace, good will toward men, the angels sang on that first Christmas night. As the carol puts it, “Still through the cloven skies they come/ with peaceful wings unfurled/ and still their heavenly music floats/ o’er all the weary world. . . “

Surely the angels hovered over those folk of good will on a storm-swept night when a life was saved.

 

 

 

 

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