A challenging search for the spirit of this festive season…

This Christmas Eve…began with a series of unexpected events that threatened my vision and hopes for a calm, peaceful day with family that I hoped would be touched by joyful spirits, some quiet reflection, and opportunity for fellowship.

Deep in sleep early this morning, I vaguely heard pounding on our front door. Did you hear that, I said to my husband…receiving no answer from him. Then the pounding was even louder and I could hear my cat begin to growl. Grabbing my robe, looking out the window to discover flashing yellow lights, I raced down the stairs and opened the door only to discover no one there.

But…there was a blue sign hanging from our mailbox – one which I have seen far too many times this year.

Water works – Repair service – the dreaded blue information pamphlet dropped off to let you know that your water would be shut off for the day while the city repaired another water main break.

I run back up the stairs to wake my husband and get him to help me fill containers, when the pounding on the front door began again. Rushing back down the stairs to open the door, I came face to face with a city employee who told me that the water main would be repaired today and there would be no water service for the day starting in about 30 minutes. Oh and could you please move our vehicle off the street.

Oh and by the way, have a Merry Christmas!

More rushing around to have an incredibly quick shower, fill containers with water, move the vehicle off the street, and avoid stepping on the cat who by this point was very hungry and wanted someone to pay attention to that. Now.

So with shower finished, containers filled, cat fed, vehicle moved to another street we thought we were done. I turned on a tap just to check but our water was still on? Large trucks hauling what was needed to dig up the street and the other trucks with equipment began leaving our street. The barricade to close the street had been removed. What was going on?

Frustrated with the frantic rushing and preparations for a day without water, we decided to leave and go out to have breakfast. Breakfast complete, starting to feel more relaxed, we stopped at our bank. Parked and then watched in amazement as a parking ticket person was walking along the street ticketing cars. Seemed a bit spiteful on this particular day.

Finished our tasks at the bank, and headed off to a big box store to clarify delivery of an item that was not to be shipped to our home until after the new year but we had just been notified it was on it’s way. After standing in line for customer service and then being treated in a spectacularly rude and dismissive fashion with the issue still unresolved, we decided to head for home. Enough.

I decided that a walk in our neighbourhood park was in order, and set out along the path close to our home. Along the way, I tried to push aside the strong feelings of frustration that had emerged unexpectedly from the events of the morning. About half way along, I thought I should pick up the pace and see if that might help to dissipate what was becoming a negative mood.

After walking at a much faster pace, I came upon the small valley that our community uses for tobogganing. I could hear children laughing, screaming with glee as they flew down the small hills. Parents were chatting, enjoying the mild December morning, and the mood here was definitely upbeat and positive. Certainly more so than the one in my head. I decided to stand off to the side of the hills and watch the fun for awhile.

After a short period of time, a small child, dressed in purple snow pants, a parka with splashy colourful flowers on it, and a bright purple tongue walked right up and stood beside me. This tiny child, a girl, looking up at me, smiled, the kind of smile that made her eyes sparkle, and simply said, Merry Christmas. And walked away to join her family.

I realized in that moment that I had finally found the spirit of this festive season that had been out of my reach for most of this day. In a much better frame of mind, I finished my walk and returned home.

I hope that the spirit of this season touches you and those you care about.

Merry Christmas!

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