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There’s Something About Christmas – Lorena Bowser

There’s Something About Christmas
by Lorena Bowser

The car never made that noise before!  I had started out to work and heard a scraping sound under the car. I got out in the pouring rain, bent down as far as I could, avoiding the growing puddles of mud, and saw nothing.  But when the car started to move again, the scraping sound came back. I was on my way to class, but concerned, I drove to the nearby service station instead. Their shop mechanic had told me a couple months ago that a rattle the car had acquired was not serious. The heat shield over the catalytic converter was coming loose and needed soldering (Yeah, easy for him to say). He couldn’t repair it: no fire allowed near a gas station. I had not yet had time to take it to the mechanic he recommended.

While I was explaining this new scraping sound to him, I looked toward the car and saw something underneath hanging onto the ground. He saw it too and when he looked at me I knew: my heat shield had fallen off!  So much for following through.

He just smiled and said I could bring the car back in the morning. He was obviously busy. The shop was full of cars in various states of repair. I said, “I guess I’d better call in to work and cancel my class,” wondering what coming back in the morning would do for me if he couldn’t solder it.  Then he said: “Hold on a sec.”  He went back to the shop, drove a car back off the rack and parked it, asked for my keys, and drove my car onto the rack in its place.

“Let’s take a look,” he said.  The car was ceremoniously lifted on the rack and sure enough, there was a nice hunk of metal hanging down from the middle of the undercarriage – the neglected heat shield.

I stood and watched as he went over to a hook by the door, took his jacket off a wire hanger, snapped the round part off the top of the hanger with a wire cutter, straightened it out and placed it around one end of the heat shield, lifting it into place.  He twisted the ends together and went back for a second hanger, taking another jacket off and placing it on a chair.  He shored up the other end of the heat shield with the second hanger. 

“That will get you to work,” he said with a big smile.  The best mechanic is the one who knows the value of chewing gum and baling wire, I thought as I drove off.  And the best Christmas gift is one that gives spontaneously when the moment is right.

I never worry about the Christmas rush to buy gifts any more.  I give what I have: a special painting, a home-baked dessert, a personal poem…It’s this time of year that my artistic creativity has a chance to grow, as money is short for buying. 

I had nothing to give the mechanic to say “thank you.” I don’t know him well enough to give something personal. I decided to go to Yelp on line to give him a good review, and there I saw a couple dozen other reviews from satisfied customers who all gave this man five stars and glowing recommendations. I’m guessing he hadn’t seen them, as I know he spends long hours in the shop every day, and as a family man, probably doesn’t spend his free time surfing the internet. I copied all the reviews onto a nice piece of paper, folded it up and placed it in one of my home-made Christmas cards, with a special note of thanks.  I took the card to him, along with two very nice, felt-covered coat hangers from my closet.  

There were no gifts under my tree this year. Indeed the “screaming penny” did not even provide a tree. But I am rich from the unexpected gifts that have lifted my spirits to soaring: this mechanic who got my car back on the road and didn’t charge me, the stranger who wished me Merry Christmas as we were exchanging “in” and “out’s” at the door of Rite Aid, the lady at Trader Joe’s who gave me an unexpected hug after we exchanged some friendly maneuvering in a crowded aisle, the Christmas card from my grandchildren, with a loving note from the oldest and a page full of zealous “P’s” and “I’s” from the youngest, friendships for which I am eternally grateful – especially one who understands that the most valuable things in life are too great to find words for – or to wrap up in packages!

Yep, there’s “something about Christmas” all right. And I got it!

Lorena Bowser is a lifetime artist and linguist. She has lived all over the world and really knows how to make the pennies scream. Enjoy more of Lorena's resourcefulness at her website and blog: at http://lorenasartandprose.blogspot.com

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2 Responses »

  1. Lorena-

    The man I call my dad is a "backyard" mechanic. He is 64. The lady I call my mom just lost her job. She is 54. My dad works on the ground (flat-back) everyday, all day it seems, to make money for my youngest daughter and my mom. This Christmas, my starter went bad. I had the money to fix it. My dad "knows" people, well at least the right people when it comes to cars. He bought and tested a starter for me and put it in my car. My husband went over to get the car and asked my dad how much we owed him for the starter. He said, "It;s an early Christmas present." This is coming from a man that is opinionated and ornery, but who has a heart as big as the Atlantic Ocean. He has come to my rescue many times. This Christmas, I bought him pants for his garage. He has a wood burner, but it still gets cold on the cement floor even though he does have old blankets out there. Believe me, I know. I have been out there right with him many times. He opened them and he was so happy that he made a joke. I said, "They are fleece, too," and he said, "Fleas? Fleas? I don't want them then," and laughed. He was very poor growing up in WV and he worked on cars to support his family in the "hollar". He landed a job at GM where he stayed for 30 years and retired. He went back to work driving roll back semi-truacks, then retired again, He has had every surgery that I can name, and his one wrist is fused and he has limited use. He had his appendix out about 4 years ago, has had back surgery, is diabetic, and on and on. But yet, this Christmas GM took away his Christmas Bonus. It hit them hard financially. I gave him the gift of warmth (literally) because he has warmed my heart. Good Read and may God bless you to do many more!!!

    -Lorrena

  2. Thank you, Lorrena! Christmas always brings the best out of everyone, doesn't it. Hmmmm...I wonder where THAT comes from :) Unbelievers, pay attention. Love is powerful!

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