Our stretch of dry sunny days were swiftly smothered in a downpour of bitter precipitation. For several days rain teemed down from the clouds, making our few hours of daylight dark and gloomy. Flood waters consumed the roads on the outskirts of Vancouver, B.C., stranding residents in their homes and making travel almost impossible. People’s moods became as dark and grey as the dense ceiling of clouds above; they crammed into city buses, wet and cranky, selfishly plunging into empty seats and stubbornly refusing to move when the bus began to fill. Miserable faces were set in permanent scowls as they slogged down sopping streets.
In the midst of this dampness my joints began to light up like Rudolph’s nose. I was sore, swollen and ill-tempered. I mourned the days before arthritis claimed my body – remembering those moments only amplified my sullen mood. I endured a crowded bus in a state of obsessed self pity. The cheer of the holiday lights diminished in the deluge that lay siege to our city. I embodied the essence of Ebenezer Scrooge, glowering at everyone, thinking the worst of human nature. Where was my usual cheer and enthusiasm of the season? It had drowned in the unrelenting downpour.
I was trudging along a wet sidewalk one unpleasant morning, when I came upon an older gentleman lingering under a storefront awning. He was bent into a tattered wheelchair, his bony hands gripping a thin jacket in an attempt to keep the chill out; a small dog was curled up in his lap. His frail voice asking for change could barely be heard in the whoosh of traffic. I was swept along with a flock of hurried passer-byes, trying to ignore the pang in my heart at the sight of him. Here I was, moaning and groaning about being wet, cold and sore, when this man was clearly in need. I stopped a few doors away and searched my wallet for some spare change. All I had was a five dollar bill, but I returned and handed it to him anyway. He looked up and said “God Bless You.” I continued on my way feeling a slight shift in my dour mood. But when I returned home hours later, Scrooge had regained his hold.
Later that evening, my better half and I were driving to a concert. I was still clinging to a prickly temper. I stared through the streaked windows, catching bits of rainbow from the lights strung over trees and buildings. I was still sulking over my swollen joints when a song I loved from childhood came on the radio. The moment I recognized it my mood lifted and suddenly, I was flying on a doghouse with Snoopy, fighting the Red Baron. The silvery chimes of Christmas bells jingled in my ears, and I was finally able to appreciate the kindness I extended to a man and his dog. Snoopy swerved and dived, but we were shot down over enemy territory – and then, an amazing miracle, the Red Baron came to our aid before flying away with a friendly salute, wishing us a very Merry Christmas….I smiled.