Last moments of a heavenly Christmas
R-C Alpine Bureau
“We got the funk Daddy” Chris sang the little phrase, but was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open. “Gotta have that funk” replied his father Nathan, scooping up his son and putting him over his shoulder, taking him upstairs and tucking him into bed. The Parliament song was one of the favorite evening set closers for the band.
They were The Living Picture Show, a Carson Valley favorite playing every venue available in the area in the early 2000s. Nathan’s wife Vanessa was the singer and songwriter. They both played guitar, along with my oldest son on lead. The band would come and stay at the house every weekend. We’d cook huge delectable meals for the sustenance needed to practice until the wee hours of the morning. Vanessa and Nathan’s children loved this weekend ritual.
Every few weeks we would open it up, calling all our friends and having a huge party. They were gatherings that had people of every age, from tiny babies to the elderly. One friend said that these were the only celebrations he had ever been to where an Orthodox Jew, a Buddhist, and a Right Wing Christian could be seen laughing and dancing together: having found their commonality.
What everyone shared during those years was a sense of purpose and of thankfulness. There was a mutual generosity and set of ethics about how you treated other people. The house held individuals who were respected, honored, and acknowledged for who they truly were.
So, on Christmas morning when we got a call from our friend Brian, the answer was easy. He was a charmingly handsome young man with a beautiful soul and a contagious smile. He had done nothing wrong, but was not getting along with his parents.
It was somewhat along the lines of the son of a butcher wanting to be a vegetarian. Each child on this earth is so uniquely themselves, but sometimes parents have a rough time accepting that. Brian needed somewhere to be on this Holy Day, and we all wanted him here with us.
He was a regular at our house, even coming with his date and a group of friends on Prom night. You could see the pain in his eyes this morning, but he walked in with that glowing smile. Our big group had just started opening gifts, and the crumpled paper, hot cocoa, and laughter surrounded him.
My heart was heavy. He had no presents. My mind was struggling to think of something, anything that was ready for him. All our “extra” gifts had been given away already.
It felt like it was an ancient memory that resurfaced, but in reality, it had been only last summer. “What size shoe do you wear?” I asked him. He replied that he wore a size ten, and that made chills run up and down my spine.
I told him to wait there, and I ran upstairs, rummaging around in the back of my closet until I found the box. I hastily wrapped it and put on a bow, running back down to tell him “Here is a present just for you.”
I will be the first to admit I am not a good shopper. So, whenever I have the opportunity, I put things aside, lessening the times I have to venture out into the commercial world.
It was on the far end of Carson that I found these shoes. It was absurd really. They were a men’s suede clog in a size ten with wonderful tread. Perfect for winter, for both inside and outside, and at an astonishingly good price. “Oh well,” I thought, “if they were in a different size I would get them.” All the family wore size eleven or twelve. I knew of absolutely no one who wore a ten.
I left the store, but found I could not get out of the parking lot. It was like those shoes were calling to me. I usually allow my logic to overrule any deep intuition I might have. But in this case, feeling absolutely ridiculous, I went back into the store and bought the shoes. Shaking my head at myself, I stuffed them out of sight in the furthest corner I could find.
“How did you know…?” Brian hesitated, ripping off the wrapping paper. His face, like mine, held a look of both confusion and wonder. “These are the exact pair I wanted: the right color, suede, treads, slip-ons”. His voice trailed off.
“Try them on.” I said. Sliding in his feet, he said how comfortable they felt. They were a perfect fit. This time we shared a look combining complete and utter amazement, happiness, and gratitude. I told him the story of how the shoes came to be here for him.
I believe it is more obvious up here in the Sierra Nevada. Every morning when I wake up in Woodfords Canyon, the miracles are always all around, but it is up to me to actually notice the perfection that exists. The massive peaks, raging rivers, and the deep dancing green of the Alpine forests bring us closer to the higher realms. The landscape itself is a message that alongside the suffering, there is something inherently virtuous waiting for us just around the bend.
Like it was on this day, sometimes there is a fold in the fabric of Creation, giving you a glimpse straight into Heaven. These are the bright moments that shine a light to get you through the darkest times: a special gift from our Creator.
Tales of sorrow and adversity lay across this land like a blanket. Let the twinkling of angelic joy cover you and keep you this Christmas and always.