gather around and I’ll tell you a story about the Christmas that almost wasn’t. Well, that’s not exactly true, but all Christmas stories start out that way, don’t they? Let me tell you about my own personal experience with the miracles that attend the Yuletide season, in a story I just hadda call: “Andy Frith and the Magic of Christmas”
Long ago, in the early 1990′s, I lived in Athens Georgia in a house on a street called Boulevard. I didn’t really mind living there, my life then was simple. I was a young man in my early 20′s, living the single life with room-mates that were my friends as many people did then and no doubt still do.
As I said, I didn’t mind living there-but there was something that came around every year, a time that I dreaded and had no care for. It was, of course, Christmas. For me, as I am sure it is for many people, Christmas was a lonely time. My friends all went home for the holiday, even if they were from Athens like me. Classes were out, the students were gone. People were off of work, the town was dead. The rhythm of the season slowed everything down to a standstill. Even if I worked the holiday-as I often did-I would still find myself sitting at home, alone, in the dark and the cold that was the house on Boulevard, anxiously awaiting the time to pass-time that reminded me just how alone I was.
One year, I wasn’t so alone. Andy Frith, a friend of mine from work and another native with no other place besides Athens to go in the Xmas, was having some sort of family problems. I’m not really sure just what they were to this day. The gist was, he didn’t want to spend Christmas Eve at home, so we hung out. We got off of work at 11:30, and with the deliberate intention of drinking heavily to forget our mutual cares. However, we both had lacked the foresight to buy alcohol ahead of time. Everywhere we went, package stores, bars, etc. were sensibly closed, their proprietors and customers at home with their family.
While we went around the town looking for a place to either purchase drinks or imbibe them, I kept saying: “Don’t worry, Andy. The Magic of Christmas will come through! We’ll get our twelve pack someplace!”
I initially said this as a joke. I kept saying it as the night wore on and it became apparent that we would face the rest of the night sober. But the thing was, I did feel something. The more I mentioned the Magic of Christmas, the more I felt it. It was like I was invoking some sort of mystical power, a power that heard my voice and heeded my supplication.
Andy and I eventually went to my house on Boulevard, dejected and without anything to lighten the mood. I turned on the TV, ready for yet another Christmas that I couldn’t wait to be over. When, suddenly, a car pulled up. Two men that I didn’t know came to the door, looking for one of my room-mates that was long gone home. I let them in, these men that I had never seen before. And they had plenty of beer and joviality to share. In no time at all, we were drinking, smoking, laughing, watching Star Wars. I knew that, somehow, my repeated invocation of the Magic of Christmas had worked, and this was it.
“See, Andy,” I said, my speech slightly slurred, “I told you, the Magic of Christmas would come through!” Andy laughed at my joke, but on some level we both knew I wasn’t joking and that Christmas had come through. Christmas was real, and so was the Magic that went with it.
The two men left eventually, leaving back into the night from whence they came. I never saw them again. But I’ll always remember that Christmas as one that stood out from all the other cold, lonely nights from the time before I had a family of my own.