Why I love Christmas and my fellow man

Our latest column from William Thomas

I really hate Christmas and all the bobble-head Jesus materialism it brings. I suggest we just eliminate Christmas shopping, have the retailers come to your house, rob you of $1,000 at gunpoint and leave a whole bunch of stuff you don’t want and will never use?

And yet there was that one Christmas Eve years ago when the true spirit of the season embraced me in its yuletide arms. I was driving out of Port Colborne on my way home after a few last minute … okay, the liquor store. Suddenly it began to snow hard and heavy, turning the drab and gritty streets into white silken paths where kids began to trot out toboggans. Snow blanketed the town with a festive air, drab routine interrupted by white glee. At this point I truly believed I could have listened to Burl Ives singing Holly Jolly Christmas without kicking the car radio to death.

To my left, Gravelly Bay was a shimmering Christmas card – flat, black water beneath swirling white squalls that danced like small twisters of snow from the beach far out to the break wall.

As I left the lake behind and started up Lakeshore Road, Port Colborne’s landmark Christmas star shone big and brilliant in the sky over Marsh’s Hill. I sighed and smiled. Unlike the stress of seasons past, all was right in my world on this snowfest Christmas Eve.

As I rounded the curve at Cement Plant Road, I spotted a car headfirst in the ditch. The tracks indicated the driver had missed the stop sign by less than a foot. I pulled over immediately for in my new found spirit of Christmas, what better gift to give than a helping hand to my fellow man.

Understandably, the driver was in a foul mood as he plotted to remove his late model car from the ditch, instructing another guy who stopped in a pickup truck to chain the bumpers and pull directly back while he pushed from the front.

“And you,” he said, pointing to me, “You get in and steer.”

I thought of saluting him with “Yes mein Fuhrer!” but I remembered that at this time of year, those less charitable need cheering up the most.

Standing all alone on this night we could have been the Three Wise Men … except of course for the dumbass who had driven into the ditch. Just then the CAA truck appeared out of the storm like a gift hand-wrapped by God. On his way to another call, the driver offered to winch the car out in a matter of minutes.

“Twenty-five bucks!” scoffed the driver. “No way. We’ll do it ourselves.”

“Suit yourself!” said the CAA guy, handing over a card. “Call me if you can’t.”

Hard to believe a guy who owns a car ten years newer than mine couldn’t afford $25 to get it back on the road. I got behind the wheel. The back tires of the pickup truck whined as they spun

uselessly on the icy pavement. With nothing to steer, I tried to get the car rocking by intermittently hitting the gas which sent the car deeper into the ditch and the back wheels off the ground. Just in time, the owner dove out of the way and then came up waving his arms, yelling at me to stop.

“Get out!” he yelled, motioning me out of the car. That I did immediately.

“Jesus Christ!” he screamed and I thought maybe he too was warming up to the festive season! But I think he meant it in a bad way because he was holding his head in his hands when he said it.

“You shut the damn door!” he yelled. Of course I shut the door, that’s what you do when you get out of a car.

“All the damn doors lock when you shut the driver’s door on these cars!” he bellowed. Yeah, like I’d read the operator’s manual while I was sitting behind the wheel, not steering.

“Oh,” I said, surprised as the engine continued to run and the back wheels continued to spin.

“Well,” I said, mustering as much cheer as possible as the three of us stood staring at the car and wearing identical hats of snow. “at least you can still call the CAA guy.”

“I could,” he said, the anger melting the snow on his forehead, “if I could reach my cell phone which is right there on the passenger seat!”

Behind me, I heard chains being dropped into the back of the pickup truck, just before it pulled away. Now there was just two of us staring at an idling, locked-up car with its ass-end sticking up in the air. At this point, even I realized the best thing that could happen was that the car would run out of gas before it overheated and caught fire.

But on this silent night, at the foot of the shining hilltop star, I would not allow the love of the season, the Christmas spirit that alluded me all these years, to desert me here and now.

“Well,” I said retreating to my own car, “I’m glad I could be of some help.”

“Merry Christmas,” I yelled as I drove off watching him bang his fist on the roof of his car, mumbling bad things about guys from Wainfleet. Later as I sat in front of the fire sipping a neat, single malt Scotch with the dog at my feet, I felt proud that against all odds I had managed to maintain my festive inspiration and goodwill toward my fellow man … who was probably still knee deep in that snow-filled ditch and entering the first phase of frostbite.

And that, for people like myself who hate Christmas, is the reason for the season – to make some poor bugger’s life just a little more miserable than your own.


For comments, ideas and copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to www.williamthomas.ca.



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