A Gift Unexpected

Christmas Eve. I tried to sleep in but couldn’t thanks to a cough, headache, and what seemed like an elephant laying on my chest – thanks to a miserable cold that grabbed me by the nose yesterday. I pulled the covers over my head, peeking out the windows at gray fog, gray sky, gray day. I stared at the ceiling, too miserable to even make tea.

Probably my loneliest Christmas ever. Looking from ceiling to gray and back, I thought about the past two plus years since moving to Oregon. There have been successes, unexpected surprises and many losses, as well. In two and half years, I’ve moved twice, started and finished a masters degree in education, had my heart trounced in love, and now work as a copywriter – ?a profession I enjoy but never even thought about.

In fact, the only plan I really made in all of this was the decision to move to Oregon.

Back to this lonely holiday. I finally pulled myself out of bed, wandered around my new gem of a place, drank coffee and wished I could call Jerry and Christine, but couldn’t because they both left us this year. I wondered if all of this change was worth it. I questioned why I made this move in the first place. I watched an old Christmas movie while Mickey slept, catching side glimpses of all the gray that seemed to have settled in for the day.

Actually, Mickey’s been in heaven having me around for the last few days. Our latest move to Grants Pass was nearly a deal breaker for him. Mickey doesn’t embrace change. His need for order and routine far surpasses what I would expect is the daily rigor for U.S. Marines. During Mickey’s first six years with me, our steady routine was perfect for him. The past two years, however, have been one change followed by another bigger change. In his mind, a roller coaster ride, no doubt. In fact, during the first six weeks in our new house, he showed just how he felt about this latest move by chewing through amazing amounts of door trim, two bathrobes, a shower curtain, blankets and more. Thanks to a Thunder Coat and the help of a local dog whisperer named Kenda, he’s adjusting.

Back to the lonely holiday. About noon, the sun came out. I balked at the thought of going on a walk but finally gave in to the sun thinking my cold couldn’t get much worse, right? After stuffing my coat pockets with cough drops and Kleenex, Mickey and I headed out. The sun felt amazing. We headed towards Rogue River Park. The river runs through this beautiful park, which is just a few hundred yards from my house.

Mickey and I walked a while. Actually, Mickey sniffed – every blade of grass and every tree. I’m the one who walked. While I did, I noticed, on the path ahead, three young men, about 18 or 20 years old, dressed in tuxedos laughing and playing music on the river bank. I’ve heard and seen musicians along the river but none dressed like this. I stopped and asked if they were getting ready to play a concert. No, one of them answered. Together, they explained that their buddy was proposing to his girlfriend that evening and they were going to sing background music for the big event. They went on to say they didn’t have a place to practice and that’s why they were at the river.Their group was a guitarist, clarinetist and drummer.

“What are you playing for this special occasion?” I asked.

All three answered, “All I Want for Christmas is You. The old version.” (The song is not that old, I thought. They were that young).

“I love that song,” I exclaimed. “Can you play it for me?”

Sure, they answered.

I sat down on the river bank, in the glorious, warm sun and was serenaded one of my favorite Christmas songs by three young musicians who played it perfectly. These guys didn’t know their song had just transformed the loneliest Christmas of my life into a new day of hope, happiness and “anything’s possible.” Maybe they did.

Thanks guys.

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