What’s your favorite Christmas story? Perhaps it’s one of the many works by Charles Dickens such as A Christmas Carol or The Cricket on The Hearth. My personal favorite was always
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.
With it’s emphasis on man’s redemption, the yuletide season serves as a fitting backdrop for so many great stories and novella’s. Not only do these works wonderfully entertain us with their irony and drama, but in a classic fashion they remind us of what is yet good in this world by projecting it against what is evil. Speaking to the faint glimmer of hope held within each of us the desired effect is to draw us in. To, through the timeless magic of the story, embolden us to confront our own internal struggles and to realize some similar victory of virtue within ourselves. These stories are about giving and receiving and the triumph of good over evil in mens hearts. They hold out to us the possibility of a different perspective than the cynical one held by so many in this world today.
The following is my Christmas story, on the surface it’s about how I overcame my own personal obstacles and made it home for Christmas one year but on a deeper level it’s also about faith and trust in something much bigger than myself.
Making specific plans when your a truck driver can not only be an exercise in futility, but one of frustration as well. This is due to the fact that as such you’re continually at the mercy of a far greater range of un-foreseen happen-stance that can, just like they did in John Steinbecks novel Of Mice and Men, wreck havoc on “even the best laid plans” that one might make. Knowing these things full well, I didn’t make a lot of specific plans that year, I simply knew that one way or another I was going to get home by Christmas! The company I drove for at the time routinely shut down on the 21st of December and so on the 20th I was set to deliver my last load of tools to a sale truck in Indiana which would then free me to come back west and stop over at “the house” during the holiday. But after delivering my load and placing a call to my dispatcher (who plays the part of Scrooge in this drama) I was informed that after my drop, I was needed to make a pick up in Kentucky that would have to then be taken back to the warehouse in Kansas without delay.
As I drove along I reasoned that the natural solution to this dilemma would be to simply call my wife and have her pick me up in K.C. (a 6 hour drive) but after inquiring after such, I was informed that she had to work (3rd shift) every night until Christmas, making it quite impossible for her to come and get me.
Another complication was that I had a bunch of gifts in the truck with me that I’d bought. My only option available seemed to be to call her and have her meet me at a point closest to home on my way back west and drop the gifts off with her thereby freeing me up to then make my way home by whatever means unencumbered. After achieving that objective rather easily, I continued in my duty and returned to the warehouse in Kansas arriving around mid-evening. Resolved to my lack of any other remedy for my predicament I slept for a few hours and before light the next morning I was on my way back the way I had just came toward my home.
How you ask? by what mode or method? on foot my friend…
I took off walking with only a rolled up rain poncho and a black magic marker to make my destination signs with. I had to walk about 10 miles on 207th st. which is a gravel road before I came to hyw 69 at Stanley Ks. I scrambled up an embankment to the 4 lane road and within minutes was offered a ride with an older gentleman who took me to Harrissonville Mo. Next, I was given a ride from the 7/71 jct. on the back of a 1 ton flatbed all the way to Spfd, Mo. It was a very cold ride but despite my discomfort, I was most content, quite thankful even…imagine that!
Soon I arrived in Spfd at the I-44/13 junction, my new friends were headed into town and so I hopped off there. I was rather numb in my legs from the cold and so my walking was with a stiff limp. I hobbled over to the nearby McDonald’s for the days first “nourishment” of any kind and upon returning to my journey couldn’t help but notice how many people were crowding the ramps of the highway that day, panhandlers holding signs each pleading their case for charity. I remember I felt some embarrassment at that because I was afraid I would be mistaken for such because of my cardboard sign that read,”hyw 60 east” but I had come much too far to let such a baseless reluctance dissuade me.
It was nearly midday now and I had made it close to half way home! In the waning hours of that late December afternoon what I remember the most was walking what seemed like great distances on the snow covered frozen shoulder of the highway, hands and feet stinging from the lack of circulation in them, feeling the blasts of frigid air pushing me back and then swirling around me as the endless convoy’s of the freight trucks blasted by. Under these circumstances,one must also steel themselves to the thousand’s of curious stares fixed upon them by passing motorists, each with questioning eye’s which at times seemed to ask,
“What are you doing out here?’
But the Lord was with me…and after several warm comfortable rides I traveled the remaining 150 miles. By 4:30 that afternoon I was on the phone to my stunned wife asking her to drive the short distance into town and pick me up! As I think back I’m still amazed by many aspects of what occurred that day. I’m amazed at the kindness of strangers who perhaps disregarded their better judgement in giving me a lift that day. I’m amazed at my own tenacity that I would even attempt such a thing. Being put in the position I was, what was most essential to me was my faith and trust in God, that he was with me and that he would make my way if only I would just continue to put one foot in front of the other quite literally walking in faith! My feeling was that for every step I took after Him, He took two towards me! It was as if he longed to express his love for me and show me that no detail is too small to escape his notice and that nothing can separate me from his love and care…Several years have passed since then, but just like so many other times in my life before and since when I needed Him, my heavenly Father was always there!
No matter what season it is, can a man have any more comfort than that?
tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy…