“Are you ready for Christmas?”
That is the question people ask these days, replacing such conversation helpers as “Are we getting snow?” and “How are you?”
It’s true that Christmas will come, ready or not. But, this year, I think about how we got here with a mix of amazement and gratitude, based on a series of events that marked 2010.
I met a guy I’ll call Joseph in August. He bounded into the King’s College radio station during Orientation Week. An easy going guy with a 400 watt grin, he wanted to talk about his love of music, an interest which including meetings with Clapton and Dylan. But, that’s not all that brought Joseph to Wilkes-Barre. Proudly, he told the story of his son, a new student.
The transition from high school to college is sometimes delicate. Even with the wide net of support colleges like King’s provides, not everybody can do it. Joseph’s son, Dave, would be flying very carefully through his first semester.
Dave, a bright young man with a scholarship to match his abilities, had been set to enter college last year. A horrific auto accident changed his fate. A state trooper at the scene called for the investigators who probe fatal crashes. The grave prognosis was relayed to Joseph and his wife.
Joseph braced for the worst. An EMT, he understood the grave nature of what had occurred. His son made it to the hospital. A series of procedures followed. Dave’s brain swelled, so doctors removed parts of his skull. Joseph took a leave of absence from his job and spent the next five months sleeping in hospitals and rehab centers. Progress was slow. Doctors were skeptical, and told Joseph that he was harming his own health by dwelling over Dave. Joseph dismissed their doubts, tending to his son’s wounds and even devising a scheme to feed him. There was no more of a powerful advocate for this young man than his father, tireless and patient in his belief that Dave would get better. Joseph believed his son’s fate would be sealed in the rehabilitation phase of his recovery, and made it his mission to do the best he could so the outcome would match.
Dave’s recovery amazed many. From the date of his accident, Dave had to re-learn everything. He worked diligently, with the tireless persistence of medical personnel and his family. Eventually, he strode across the stage at his high school graduation as the trooper who responded to his “fatal” accident looked on, along with his proud parents.
Joseph, the caring guardian, was now dropping his son off at college, concerned about how he would do but optimistic that his son’s future was his for the taking.
In December, Joseph came back to the radio station, broad grin intact. He talked about Dave’s first semester, where he faced some challenges but nothing that the young man couldn’t overcome. Joseph, the overseer of an intensive recovery, learned to keep his distance from the young man, who reminded him that a handful of phone calls was not necessary, though I’m sure they were secretly appreciated. Now, it was the end of the semester and Dave had done it, another accomplishment in what could be described as a miracle recovery.
When I think about the hurdles my own family had to clear this year, I stack them up against Joseph and Dave’s obstacles. Mine were most difficult, and a radio career means you have to forget about your own troubles on days when you just can’t. I have to admit there were a handful of days in 2010 when I have no idea what transpired between 9 and noon when I was on the air. There were several days when I really didn’t think I could even finish the show, but God provides. Now, when I feel like I’m carrying the world on my back, I think of a guy who can still smile and his son who did the impossible. This is the kind of inspiration that Christmas brings. Each year, the struggle of Mary, Joseph and their newborn son should inspire awe and hope. This year, I think I am ready for Christmas.