A Christmas Miracle

Temporary resident in Brother Dave’s yard

It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles. — Hans Gruber in Die Hard

So, being smack dab in the midst of the 2017 holiday season, I find myself looking forward to waking up Christmas morning, firing up the old Blu-ray, and watching Die Hard. While I enjoy the movie any time of year, I do find it takes on special meaning at Christmas.

Just like how it somehow feels right to watch Jaws around the Fourth of July. Though not every Fourth of July—in any given year, I’ll abstain if I happen to be training for an open-water swim race. It’s too spooky heading out into the water if Jaws is fresh in my memory.

But I’m getting sidetracked. I did not intend this post to be about my holiday movie-viewing habits. It’s supposed to be about a couple of rare occurrences that transpired recently.

First, snow in Southern Louisiana. That is rare indeed. The winter storm that just blew through much of the U.S. took an unusual southward dip. Last Friday, I drove to work through freezing rain, and saw some snow flurries later in the day. Though the snow didn’t stick on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain (where I live and work).

The snow did stick roughly thirty miles away, on the north shore of the lake. I found myself over there on Saturday, making good on a long-standing intention to visit 2nd & Charles, a used bookstore. There are maybe 40 of these stores scattered throughout the U.S., and only two in Louisiana.

Another aside: I’m a newly-minted fan of this store / concept. I traded in a bunch of DVDs and Blu-rays, received a cash offer for them, and then spent slightly more than what I had just received on gifts. The net result was that I still reduced the amount of unused “stuff” in our house, and was also introduced to a really cool bookstore.

Anyway, once I crossed the 24-mile concrete span known as the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, signs of the previous day’s snowfall were evident. The white stuff was still showing—on the shoulder of the road, on pitched rooftops. I had lunch with my brother David and his family, and his north shore neighborhood still looked like a winter wonderland.

Which brings me to the phenomenon I really intended to write about. By pure happenstance, I saw all of my Louisiana-based siblings on Saturday. There are five of us here, (seven total—two sisters live out of state), and our respective orbits don’t typically intersect. And, we’re a pretty introverted lot, so gatherings and celebrations don’t come together as quickly or naturally as they might for other families.

Lunch with Brother Dave and his whole family—Sister-in-Law Barbara, Nieces Cherie and Veronica, and Veronica’s fiancé Josh—would have been blessing enough. I headed back over the Causeway with a full belly, and happy to have caught up with beloved family. And, I had enough time to make it to vigil Mass with Brother Jerry, or “Mass of the Ancients” as we’ve dubbed it. (Vigil Mass with Jerry is not a rare occurrence; we used to bring our mother to this Mass, and just never stopped once Mom was gone).

When I arrived at Jerry’s house, I discovered Niece Kate, recently home from her first semester at Mississippi State, would join us for Mass. Then, walking into church, what to my wondering eyes does appear, but Sister Susan and Brother Stephen. They usually go to the late Sunday Mass, but as the fates would have it, were at Saturday’s vigil.

So, lo, in the span of just a few hours, I saw all my Louisiana siblings. Mom, who passed away three years ago this coming Sunday, would have been very pleased by that turn of events.

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