One of the nice things about life is having good friends. All too often we drift along taking them for granted, and forgetting how much they really mean to us until something happens. This Christmas I got a peek into the true meaning of friendship when just about everything went wrong that could possibly go wrong did.

It all started with an ice storm. In the midst of the storm I lost the use of my windshield wipers. If you are trying to keep ice, snow, slush and a host of other water related substances off your windshield this is not a good thing to happen. However, all was not lost because I still had two days before Christmas when I would need the vehicle so I confidently dropped the car off at the local garage and waited. But, the ice storm was not over and the place John (our mechanic) usually gets his parts from had no electricity and as a result no use of their computers, and you can guess the rest of the story.

All was not lost, however, because our friends Bill and Mary loaned us a car, and that made it possible for me to drive my son and daughter back to Moncton where they could catch their flight to Toronto.

Now, back to the two days before Christmas when I lost my windshield wipers. I was sitting at home relaxing with my family an when suddenly the wires across the street began spitting flames and electricity started arching and out went the electricity to our whole town. The house was fairly warm so we spent the night comfortable enough, but the following morning decided that as soon as Bill and Mary dropped off the car we would go to Moncton and spend Christmas at my sisters.

Bill and Mary had barely arrived when the lights came back on, but we only had partial power and as a result too much electricity was running into part of the house and nothing into the rest. Before we could get everything unplugged the power surges had fried our microwave, refrigerator, Ruth’s elliptical machine, and our build in CD player in the kitchen. These charges also did something strange to the furnace and the fan refused to turn off.

My neighbor Steve came over and gave me a hand, but because the source of my problems was outside with the wires we couldn’t do much but turn the electricity off. Mary helped me drain the pipes for the few days we were going to be away because the weather was forecast to turn very cold.

In the midst of all this our hot water heater quit working. I phoned New Brunswick power and a repair man came out and replaced the heater, after he left we waited the two hour allotted time for the tank to fill then tried the hot water; nothing. It was still as cold as before.

So, as we travelled to Moncton for Christmas in a borrowed car I knew that when I returned I would have to deal with burned out appliances, no electricity, no hot water and a quirky furnace. Christmas night I phoned one of the neighbors to see how things were going in the neighborhood, but mostly to be reassured my house was still standing. He told me everything was good and that they had gotten the power company to fix the problem and I now had electricity. My neighbor is an electrician so he went into the house and made sure that everything was working like it should. He turned the furnace on and we were able to come home to a warm home. Another neighbor had the key to our house so we were able to unlock the house (that’s another story on how we ended up without a key to our house) and enjoy the warmth of a heated home.

As I write this I still don’t have my car back, I am waiting for a furnace repairman to come and repair the furnace, a plumber to figure out why the hot water is just a trickle and the small appliance repair guy to come and look at the fridge. Yes, a lot went wrong this Christmas and it turned out to be a very expensive Christmas, but it also had its warm side. Friends made the Christmas very special for me this year. I was touched deeply by the generosity and kindness of these people who were willing to go out of their way to help out a fellow traveller in this journey called life. There is something special and encouraging to know that you are not alone when the world seems to conspire against you.

There is also something very comforting in the knowledge that we are not alone spiritually in this life. Throughout the trials and tribulations that we all face we can have the assurance and comfort that we have a wonderful friend in Jesus looking out for us. Ice storms happen, but friends are made, and sometimes those ice storms bring us back to being thankful for what really matters, our relationship with God, family and friends. I may be crushed when I get all the bills for new appliances and repairmen house calls, but I will always remember the helping hands that made this Christmas turn out all right after all. What better time of year to be reminded that we are not alone in life.