There is a house over on Prospect that has never taken down their Christmas decorations. The house has been this way for years. Then again, I moved away years ago. Perhaps this has changed. Truth is I’m not sure.
Year round though, the house was dressed with an old holiday spirit that was never removed. It is unclear if anyone lived in the house. I’ve never seen anyone come in or out. The house is aged and weathered and the landscaping is unkempt to say the least. I’m sure the neighbors on either side do not appreciate the look. The houses in the community are moderately priced. Prospect Avenue is a main street, although, the neighborhood is otherwise suburban and the town is the place I grew up.
I’m sure at one point, the house was beautiful. I’m sure that decorations were hung with the love and enthusiasm of the holiday spirit.
But something most have happened, —maybe someone passed away or went away and never came back. And now the house is just an estate case of a grandparent that never made it passed the holiday season. But one month out of a year, lit of not, the decorations make sense.
I have never seen a Christmas miracle per se but I can say that The Old Man passed on December 29.
I was allowed to come home and see him from a place that needs not be mentioned. The year was 1989 I was 17 and recovering from a social sickness that was taking over in true epidemic fashion.
I took a bus from Monticello, New York to the bus station in Hempstead Long Island. It was snowy and cold. The moment was oddly still, or better yet, everything was too surreal for words.
I knew what was coming my way. I knew there was nothing in the world that was going to change the outcome. I knew that my entire life was about to change, all my plans, my family’s finances, the family business, my Mom, my home that I was hoping to get back to after my time was done, —everything was about to change.
The heat was pumped throughout the bus. The sky was a dim gray and the sides of the highway were pillowed with mounds of white snow. The snowflakes were the big kind and reminded me of the snowflakes we used to make as kids in kindergarten class. Remember? We made them by folding up sheets of white paper and making random cuts in the page to open and unfold it to the surprise of an unforeseen product.
I drove down with my head against the window of the bus, which was mainly empty. I thought about The Old Man. I thought about my belief in God which was unsure at best.
I prayed though. I tried making a deal with God. I asked to be allowed to see The Old Man. “Just let me make it home.”
I tried to make a compromise with a few things but apparently, the deal was not sufficed. I made it home though. I made it to the bus depot, into a little miserable room that was filthy with a sad attempt of a little plastic Christmas tree in a little brick-red flowerpot on top of the television. There was a strong of colored, over-sized Christmas lights on it, which made the attempt even more sad.
While I waited for the driver to come to the cab station, I sat in a seat that was probably home to a million different asses before mine. The room smelled from body odor, ethnic food, and cigarette smoke. The dispatcher spoke with an extremely thick Middle-East accent. The television was on. The show was Jesus of Nazareth.
I made it to the hospital not long after. I suppose there was a mix up in the communication because Mom and my brother Dave were not at the hospital when I arrive. Instead, they were looking for me at the bus stop.
(Keep in kind, this was the time before cell phones, Oh, dear Lord, how ever did we get by?)
The hospital was dressed in Christmas spirit. Although The Old Man was in the Coronary Care Unit with most of the patients at their tragic end, still, the warm glow of the holiday lights were enough to offer a bitter, soothing nature to a troubled place during a troubled time. The hour was getting late and most of the unit had settled down.
I always assumed my prayers were never answered.
But the truth is they were.
Truth is The Old Man waited to see everyone before he passed. Shortly after my arrival, my family members began to show up, one by one. And I have to say, I remember the hugs I received from each and every one of them.
I am not sure if this qualifies as a Christmas miracle. I’m not too sure who makes the ruling on these things, which is fine, because if I’m making the call, then I call “Yes!”
Maybe the house on Prospect has an idea that we in the town and the neighbors have overlooked. Maybe the house on Prospect is onto something. Maybe the wonderful part of the holiday season is the fact that we are literally looking for miracles. Maybe the beauty of the season is the sense of love and togetherness.
I think of the family dinners that tend to get loud and the plates of food that pass around. I think of the food comas that come afterwards and then the desserts that we make room for, no matter how stuffed we might be.
I think of the beauty in the songs we sing at this time of year and the heartfelt moments of holiday cards that we send out with love.
I think of the overall generosity and our heightened sense of humanity, which leads me to one question. Why do we only limit this to one month out of the year?
Maybe the house on Prospect is not the nicest on the block. Maybe the decorations are old and beaten. Maybe this house doesn’t have shed a positive light on the neighboring homes and the resale value.
Or, better yet.maybe there’s an idea here that needs to considered. Maybe the idea goes beyond the decorations themselves and speaks from a different consideration of love and peace to us all.
So go ahead, say what you will to the people that own the old house on prospect. I say maybe they’re onto something.
I say maybe there’s a lesson here. I’m saying maybe we should all learn to get out of our own way and learn how to get along a little better.
This way those warm holiday hugs would come more than once a year.
Maybe this way, the miracles we look for would be as plentiful as the snowflakes I tried to count when riding on that bus, December 24, 1989.
So Merry Christmas, folks.
Be sure to hug someone you love today.
it just might be the most unforgettable thing you’ve ever done for someone