But the real point of that story isn't really about us or the family that we helped. It's about how Christmas -- and life -- changes as we get older... And how we have to change with it. That lesson was new to me in 2001. I probably still have a bit of trouble with it today.
A little more than a week before my birthday in 2001, my house caught fire. In the end, everything turned out better than could be expected. Our house is sealed better than we thought and the fire extinguished itself before it could spread. But for me... The guy who seems to endure 357 days of the year while waiting for the eight that contain his birthday and Christmas... All was not well.
The Christmas tree had always been up for my birthday. That was just part of the order of things. Not in 2001. Although the fire damage was minimal, the smoke damage spread into every corner of the house. Rooms close to the fire had to be repainted. Every ceiling in the house got new paint, too, because the heater had been on during the fire. The drapes were all down for cleaning. Crews were in my house, washing and scrubbing everything imaginable -- from dishes in the kitchen to furniture. Sofas and chairs had to be cleaned and all of the carpets were shampooed. I was thankful to have my house. I was thankful to have my family. But I was pissed that nothing seemed to be in order.
Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play
In addition to the fact that I was another year older, Christmas started to feel as though it was losing its magic. As someone who lives for the magic of this holiday... I was just a little bit lost. And then, in the tragedy of December 22, 2001, I was a taught a lesson. Christmas can't be the same year in and year out. Life certainly can't be, either. We endure and adjust -- or else.
When you get older, the magic of the holiday doesn't leave. It's still there. You just have to look in new places to find it. In 2001, I found it not in the anticipation of gift-giving or a visit from Santa, but in the living room of a family in need of a helping hand. The reward may have been worth the search. It makes you wonder where it will be this year.