For me, December is a rough month, always has been. The holidays are festive but frustrating. Expectations are high and the letdowns always seem to happen. Then the pace accelerates to a blur with parties and shows and it is exhausting physically and psychically.
Of the 64 Christmases I’ve spent on this earth, some of them simply aren’t as joyous and as high on the ranking as others. It happens. This particular one wasn’t one of my best. In the middle of a month when I am usually gearing up for the big push, I was thrown into an intense scenario that I had little choice about. I reluctantly went through a week of physical and emotional punishment.
Though bruised, I made it through that stretch but when I came up for air, I found myself at the beginning of a crazy schedule that had me going every night from the 20th through new years. I traded one level of intensity for another. I am not complaining. Being mercifully busy was the best thing that could have happened. Besides the obvious financial benefit, I was able to put smiles on a lot of faces. That fed my soul.
In the middle of all this, the strangest thing happened.
On Christmas night, I was driving home from a wonderful early party in a lovely home on Red Mountain in Aspen with three generations represented. I finished, they went to dinner and I was on the road home at 8PM. Perfect.
As I headed out of Aspen, for some reason, the music choices on my favorite NPR stations were awful. I hit search- something I rarely do- and I landed on 93.5 -‘The Thunder!’-a commercial pop station I NEVER listen to- not my kind of station. But, by the strangest coincidence, I lucked into the run up to the reading of a story called “The Littlest Cowboy’s Christmas”. The author is a local pal -Michael Chandler. I recognized his voice so I listened. Threading my way through Snowmass Canyon, this wonderful little story unfolded. I was spellbound. It’s a true story of a Christmas eve 40 years ago. Chandler and his son, a cowboy named Joe, his shaggy horse, Lefty, and a guy named John Denver and his son gathered in a drafty barn not far from here. The story was captivating, but since I knew all the people in the story, it was even more riveting. Just as I pulled into my driveway (the timing couldn’t have been more perfect), John’s rendition of “Silent Night” started.
It’s good I was where I needed to be, because the culmination of that heartwarming story, the clarity of John’s beautiful voice, the peacefulness of the cold crisp Christmas night, the memories of all my previous Christmases, the memories of my own beautiful children singing John’s music to me, the awareness that this wasn’t my ‘best Christmas’, well, it all just hit me. I sat in the driveway and the tears just came. By the time the third verse started, I was wracked with a cathartic sobbing that rarely happens to me but that I welcome when it does. It signals a release of emotion that I have held in for a long time. The story ended. I turned the radio off and sat in the stillness marveling at what had just happened.
It’s certainly not the first time that John’s music has brought me to tears but what made this little event so much more remarkable was the unlikely circumstances of happening on this reading, on a station that I never listen to, tuning in at the exact right moment, and the fact that John’s guitar began to play AS I drove into my driveway. The coincidental nature of all this is unlikely but was perfectly timed.
If you think of things like this, maybe I was MEANT to hear it. Though December is still a blur, this little bit of magic restored my Christmas.
I am not sure whether to thank Michael, or maybe even John for reaching back through the veils! All I know is that this strange coincidental set of circumstances lent some peace to the evening and it made my Christmas (dare I say) truly magical.
I hope you all have a wonderful new year.
If you are so inclined, that whole story is at the following
Click on the scrubber bar thingy, move it to 16:00 and listen to this story. It will be worth it. When the song ends, the story isn’t over!!! Give it a moment, and Chandler picks it back up and finishs it.
If you are further inclined, the book is available at Amazon.