Everyone has that special memory when the Christmas Spirit takes hold and ‘Joy runneth over’ with that fullness of delight. My most joyful Christmas holiday started out with some very harsh periods in my life: I was laid off from my job, lost both my parents that year, was in the middle of a turbulent divorce after 17 years of marriage... and my dog died! I spent a month severely depressed, gradually gathering myself to start living again, and eventually put my name out in an online singles dating site called Astral Hearts. The site catered to people with an interest in meditation, metaphysics, and those seeking spiritual companionship.
After meeting some interesting women locally, I received an inquiry from a woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Every evening we got together online and spent hours emailing one another—Eileen was her name. By the way, she did not know anything about instant messaging, just email. One day I sent her an instant message, saying, "Hi, how did your day go?" Startled, she wrote me back, "How did you do that?????" (This was about 16 years ago so instant messaging was new, at least to us!) She was kind of frightened and thought I had somehow taken over her computer. We share a laugh about it now, especially when she tells me that she actually looked over her shoulder to make sure I wasn't somehow there!
One day, after many months of this type of communication, she wanted to know if I was as lonely and miserable as she was. She wanted to see me and, of course, I said YES! She invited me to visit the 4th of July and described it her favorite day because it meant Freedom! I liked this description and was anxious to meet her, so I began my 1,000 mile, 16 hour trip—one of many. When I told my family and friends I was dating, I left out the part that I was driving a 2,000 mile round trip. I checked into a hotel off I-40, agreeing to meet her at her home in the morning to have breakfast, and what a wonderful one it was! We had her special New Mexico omelets with coffee while we looked out her window, watching the Sandia Mountains. She planned our day: a stroll down the Rio Grande, then a rock shop call Mama's Minerals. I bought her a jade carved Buddha and she bought me an amethyst one. We climbed Sandia Peak to watch the fireworks and this mystic mountain blew a cool breath of air that smelled of piñon pine, making us cuddle (I do not kiss and tell!). I stayed in my motel that evening and met her the next day to drive to Sky City—what a day that was!
After driving back and forth for my dates, we decided to spend Christmas together. This time I took a plane and I was there in 2 hours! Our excitement was magnetic. We went to Home Depot and bought a pile of piñon pine for her fireplace. Then we went to Old Town Plaza. There was a tree, all lit up, and Christmas Carols flowing through the air. The temperature kept dropping and it began to snow. Even though I was in my fifties, that night brought this Texan his first White Christmas. I had never before felt the Joy that that Christmas gave to me. I thought of a child wrapped in rags in a manger and knew then what the tradition of wrapped-gift giving is about during this season of Love and communion. As we walked through the different shops, talking about our future, I also knew then that no matter how old you are, Love and Romance are waiting for you, and in Eileen's words, "Our childlike spirit comes out to play again on that night of Light.”
Merry Christmas from the Little Shack, shining with love from a woman, now my wife, that I met online in Albuquerque, New Mexico.