Prescription: A Little Christmas by Chuck Thurston

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An old friend of mine once said, “After sixty, it’s just patch, patch, patch!”

Our patchups started in February, and it was one thing after another for the rest of the year. My wife was already in physical therapy for one kind of structural failure, when we put the final dings in the fender in early November. As a matter of fact, we pretty much obliterated the fenders and much of the rest of our van when a vehicle running a stop sign struck it almost amidships. That was only the first wham. The second occurred milliseconds later when it was driven across the road and into a brick wall marking the entrance to a suburban development. Take that, mortals.

Well, parts flew and air bags deployed and seat belts cinched tighter than we thought possible. The moments after are a blur. I staggered out and walked around Vito (our name for our Chianti red minivan) and helped two or three onlookers hoist Heidi out of the passenger seat and onto her walker. Sirens wailed in the distance and very soon deputies, state police, ambulances and fire trucks were all in attendance and their uniformed crews took charge of the whole shebang. Vito was a pile of scrap, but he had sacrificed his vehicular integrity in our behalf. Take that, survivors.

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I won’t go into details of the next several weeks, but we discovered that they were filled with plusses and minuses – and both sides of the equation were bad. We added hospital stays, doctor examinations, lawyers’ meetings, vehicle haulaway and writeoff, visiting nurses with ointment application and dressing changes, insurance claims, and a hundred other little details downstream of an accident like this. We subtracted tickets to the Nutcracker and a Panther’s game; visits to friends and family, our daily workouts at the Y – we scrubbed Thanksgiving at our cabin and Heidi was convinced we were about to bag Christmas, when a most remarkable thing happened.

Early in December, we got an email from old friends, living in Long Island, who were going to be in North Carolina on some family business. They allowed as how they might have a chance to drop by, and would phone us in the morning to firm plans up. We had not told them of our accident and they were shocked when we gave them the details over the phone. They were sympathetic in the extreme, and told us that when we got back into hosting mode in the early spring, they would have to drive down to see us!

This was the first time since the wreck we had considered our lives in a timeline that extended beyond the next doctor’s appointment. There was a future, beyond our present troubles, and we owed something to it!

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Look, even if we didn’t go to great lengths, we had window swags, a door wreath and some other Christmas decorations in the cellar. Once those were in place – what the heck, let’s decorate the mailbox and the outdoor porch light. Outside taken care of, it only made sense to buy three or four poinsettias and spot them around the living room. Well now – they’d look a whole lot better if the garland for the mantle was put in place; and didn’t we have a little ceramic Christmas tree with twinkling lights and a little train circling it to music box carols? To be sure we did.

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That was more like it. We bought Christmas cards and mailed them out. We displayed the ones we received. We watched a few Christmas specials on TV. Our bodies are still not completely healed, but our spirits are well on the way to recovery. Take that, post-calamity funk.

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