I am a praying man, but I duly confess that on the bleak and storm-wrought midnight of Thursday the twentieth of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, a prayer was not the first thing to exit my lips as I, like some ancient and malevolent phantasm, danced twice across the highway and hurtled my fine and trusted chariot into a ditch.
I was on errand to visit my kith and kin at Christmastide, hoping to find relaxation and merriment, but upon my conveyance from my residence in Missouri to my native home in Indiana, and somewhere on the great and fruited plains of Illinois, a fierce storm blew up, as if the four winds of Heaven were colliding and wrestling upon the floor of the coal-black skyhood. Snow thrust down its icy daggers, encrusting the road with a treacherous and deceptive bed, and great gusts charged crosswise into the flanks of my wagon.
Redoubling my courage, I pressed on, though my knuckles were white on the wheel. That furious blizzard clung to me like a debtor, until just south of Kokomo, Indiana, it finally came to collect. Round a bend in the frozen highway I came, now, I confess, with unwarranted confidence, after passing so many miles and hours with nary an upset, only to discover that some poor, frightened driver (I am gentle now, though at the moment my thoughts surged elsewhere), fairly stood his carriage in front of me, proceeding at a rate of no more than twenty-five miles every hour, and though his emergency lanterns were blazing, I had not seen him until now.
Frantically I slowed my beast and swerved to the right lane to avoid him, but to no avail. The ice had my helpless tires in its devious clutches, and there was little I could do to free them. I put up a famous effort, feathering the accelerator and feinting once- twice- three times across the breadth of the road before charging headlong into oblivion.
I am thankful now, in retrospect, for the water into which I so unceremoniously plunged, for it slowed me with relative gentleness, but in that moment, or rather the next, once the great wave of filthy water had settled and I had regained my composure, I grew worried. My initial attempts to use my vehicle’s all-wheel-drive to propel myself out of the ditch seemed promising. But the grade was too steep, and I settled into the mud, with half of my beloved, faithful beast now submerged.
Worry set in deeper when I began to hear the trickle and play of near-frozen water, leaking into the right side of my car. A closer inspection of the shadows confirmed my fears: both right side wheel wells were quickly shipping water. Still over 70 miles from home, and my budget too pitiful for a midnight rescue at the hands of an unfriendly tow driver, my hopes were dashed.
But LO! As if in answer to the prayers I never uttered, what should appear but a pair of glorious and benevolent angels, awash in the blinking strobe lights of their shimmering Dodge Ram 1500. Ever do the servants of the Almighty stand ready to help us in our time of need, and upon my faith, the testimony of the younger angel, humbly clad in the attire of a friendly mechanic, was that he had been watching even as I had crashed.
In moments I was freed from the ditch, and as the beast idled healthily, and as all four of my lanterns glowed with cheer, I drove on. Upon reaching Kokomo, the steed seemed to flag, so I pulled over to find that not only had the grille become dislodged and lost in the impact, but the radiator and condensing devices had been jarred from their bottom fittings. I did my best to rearrange things, and, mourning the loss of my grille, pressed on toward home, with no evidence of further weakness on the part of the car.
The remainder of my journey was long and arduous, fraught with daemon shapes in the incessant, blinding snow, and winds that still persisted in their efforts to heave me bodily from the road and into eternity. Time passed slowly, far more slowly than its telling, but by the help of the Father in Heaven, I arrived at last in my warm little hamlet of a home town.
I found not only that my family had waited for assurances of my arrival, but that dispatches had come in from more distant relatives with offers of help and housing for my hapless, beleaguered animal. I could not have been more relieved to find such comprehensive love and support from my kin, however far removed my regular communication with them.
And so, upon the next Saturday, my father and I traveled through now sunwashed, snowy countryside to the home and well-equipped stable of my generous second cousin, who had himself recently overcome a serious malady of cancer. The three of us travailed over the besotted carriage all day, removing its carpet and insulation and remounting the radiator with zip-bindings where its plastic pegs had sheared off. My cousin was so magnanimous in his efforts that, during a brief absence of mine, he polished my wagon’s lantern housings, worn and yellowed as they were.
As the day drew to a close, my goodly steed was back in fighting shape, as right as it ever had been; save, perhaps, the aesthetic absence of its grille, and eager to serve me again.
Between the trifold blessings of heroic and angelic strangers, a loving family’s warm hearth, and the Swift Sure Hand of the Almighty, though it is still only December the twenty-fourth, I have already seen my share of Christmas miracles.