I have been, all things considered, completely unemployed for the last four years. We have completely burned through our reserves, and it is only by the grace of God that my wife is able to keep us in a home. So when things like Christmas comes, when having a roof over your head alone is a blessing, it’s difficult to “catch the Christmas Spirit” if you get my drift. I had given up all pretension that I could come up with a gift for anyone, let alone my wife.
Christmas Eve we went to our church service dedicated Christmas presentation. I do not like these events; to me they are nothing more than adult talent shows, where the worship band gets to play Christmas music and the acting team gets to put on as many artful performances as they want. On rare occasion are they ok, once they put on a “Gilligan’s Island Christmas” sketch so cringe-worthy I literally had to get up and leave the service. I’m quite certain this sort of thing is not why God chose to come to this planet in the form of a child and grow up among us.
The service wasn’t terrible… actually there was less Christmas music, or at least it didn’t feel like your typical Christmas service. The title was “The Christmas Moment,” and included a sketch from the “innkeeper” that turned away Joseph and Mary, and how he was so wrapped up in this census event and taking care of the guests he had that he missed the moment our Savior was born. The sermon given from Mike Meade was really along those lines, how we all suffer this “hurry sickness,” and can get so caught up in what we think is life that we miss these small moments that truly mean everything to us.
One sketch did catch my attention, not for its acting quality, just something said. It was a woman talking about how she was the “Alpha Giver,” how Christmas time was a competition for her and she always had to give out the best gifts, the gifts everyone wanted whether they knew it or not. She talked about going to her brother’s house for Christmas and how much he cherished the “lousy” photo album his wife had given him over the iPad Air she got him. She said, “Next year I’ll just give him a picture of when we were kids, all buck tooth and ugly if that’s what he wants.”
God chose to speak to me in that moment. Not conversationally… He just reminded me of a moment in time. You see this year my wife and I celebrated our ten year anniversary… well I shouldn’t say celebrated since there was no money to do anything. It’s funny how when we got married, my wife and I had to put together everything ourselves because her mom was out of town and my mother was having one of her sadist moments… in fact it was only two days before the wedding that five people from my side of the family were given permission to attend (next to Lonna’s seventy that showed up). We hadn’t cared so much about the little technicalities that went wrong (like the guy who filmed the event couldn’t figure out where to stand or stop playing with the zoom), I had always wanted to renew our vows at our ten year anniversary. I think if we do that now it will probably be 25.
The moment God spoke to me was the moment Lonna and I exchanged rings. Which was problematic; no one had actually photographed this. I think that made it that much more special, that it would be a picture Lonna had never seen. In the back of my mind I was certain that the guy who filmed our wedding did actually capture that… however there were several problems. One being the guy couldn’t get the right angle on anything. Another being, we taped on Hi8, and would a tape like that have survived for ten years, seven of which in our dank basement where I left it?
When we got to my sister’s house I was sent out for pizza, and there was a Wal-mart still open nearby. I needed photo paper if I was going to accept in faith that if God had shown me this moment, then it existed. I also needed a frame, and being the night before Christmas, they were pretty much sold out. And yet in the corner of that long, raided shelf was this little scratched up frame with a cross and 1st Corinthians 18:18 below. When I found that, somehow I knew I would find that moment.
I got back to my sister’s, told my wife I needed to run home for something, and rushed back. The tape was where I remembered, and it had degraded a little but most of the recording was there. And sure enough… exactly as pictured in my head, the moment when I placed the ring on Lonna’s finger.
Unfortunately, I had no way of interfacing that old camcorder with my computer. Apparently Firewire has since gone out of style.
I did, however, have a DVD player/recorder for a television. It had component inputs and I was able to transfer the tape to DVD (meaning that terrible video will never die now). From there I screen captured the right frame, loaded it into Photoshop and did my digital magic. It doesn’t show our faces, so I figured that for all she knew, the picture just came with the frame. So I added another saying God had given me; “that moment when.”
I assume no one, including my wife would get it, so I wrote a letter along with the frame. Apparently the letter trumped the picture, because now she wants to frame the letter. Basically I explained, “that moment when, it means ‘that moment when so many things can be said, and the meaning is so huge, and the emotions are so heavy, that I literally don’t have words to finish that statement.’”
Also I added, “I guess in a way, it’s just another ‘thing.’ Which for me is weird because now my thinking is like, there is literally nothing greater you can give me than you’ve already given, which is your love.”
So, husbands… still not sure how or why, but this is one way to make every woman in the room cry on Christmas morning.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays everyone!