Two back to back exams, a failed youth party, and one of the most magical nights of my life!
It was the night before, the night before Christmas (Dec 23rd) and I was doing an all-nighter at the church, pouring over Psychology and Human Anthropology. Why in the world I schedule two 3 hour exams back to back on Christmas eve day is beyond me. I needed to get the two correspondence courses done before Christmas to complete my BA before I could begin my Masters in January. I had no idea what I was in for that day!
The pastor proctored the exams for me during the day saying, “I trust you. Put the exams in the envelope and slip them under my door when you’re done.” So began my marathon from noon to 6 PM on December 24th. While others were ending work early, meeting family and friends for festive gatherings, I was struggling with “opperant versus classical conditioning.”
What are you going to do about this?
I was so exhausted when I completed the essay on the “origins of ancient religious belief systems” that all I could think of was my bed. That’s when the phone rang. One of the grade 12 students was on the line. “This party sucks and the senior high pastor didn’t show. The boys are watching ninja movies and the only other girl who showed up just left. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
I was barely conscious from the all-nighter and the two exams I had just slipped under the pastor’s door. I was only an intern and the senior high students weren’t my (problem) responsibility. I was in charge of children and junior highs.
At that moment, looking for some excuse, I was kicking myself for even picking up the phone… “Well? What are you going to do about it? “What was that…” “She repeated, “this senior high Christmas party is a disaster and we need help!” I think I mumbled “Okay I’m coming over. I’ll see what I can do.”
Into the Night
I splashed some water on my face, grabbed my old beat up guitar and started the walk to the apartment complex. Just as I reached the corner of the parking lot of Sheridan mall, huge clumps of snowflakes began to slowly descend. As I started across the huge parking lot, I noticed under one of the lamps looking up into the sky at the falling flakes, the high school senior who had called me.
She didn’t see me approach so I called out her name, “Anna!” She smiled at me and I said, “Let’s go back to Peter’s house and see what we can do about this party!”
The snow continued to fall as we made our way back to the apartment where the boys had moved from ninja movies to Kung Fu with bad voice dubs.
Saving Christmas Eve
I quickly realized that there was no saving this, so I came up with another idea. “Let’s go Christmas caroling for some of the people in our church!” Peter, John, Rick, Liza and Tony were a little hard to motivate but in a few minutes we were on our way to Henry and Caroline’s apartment. We sang the family a carol and dragged the two kids out with us. Next we headed off to “little” Helen’s store. We came in singing and her dad gave us potato chips and pop. Helen came down stairs with her friend Grace and they joined our little caroling crew.
We walked back to the apartment complex where Rick’s mom was home alone. On the way, little Helen wanted to hold my hand. Anna held her other hand and we headed under the overpass. Our voices echoed as we shouted “Joy to the World!” over the din of the traffic.
Tired as I was, I really did feel warmed with joy in my heart. I was so happy to be alive and realized how much I loved all of these kids. Somehow Jesus’ birth had made all of this possible.
A Little bit of Christmas Magic
We sang for Rick’s mom and she lit up! She gave all of the kids some kind of treat that I can’t remember. Rick stayed home and we went back on our route to drop everyone else off. We walked and sang Christmas carols loudly; not caring who was listening or looking at us. Eventually we ended up where we started at Peter, John and Liza’s apartment. The snow was accumulating now and crunched under our feet as I walked Anna to the bus stop.
The night sounds were muffled by the fluffy falling flakes. I was so tired and happy. It had been a magical night. And how was I to know that seven years later Anna and I would be leading worship together at a church and would eventually get married.