On behalf of all of us, I want to wish you, our friends, family, and fans a very merry Christmas. I’d like to share a little Christmas story that is unfolding now.
As I write this, it is 2:30am Christmas morning, and I am sitting on a runway in Pasco, WA, still not entirely sure if I will make it home in time for the sun to come up. We had the pleasure of performing on a Caribbean cruise this week, and were so excited to be flying home on Christmas Eve to enjoy the special day with loved ones. Earlier today, I got the news that my flight was delayed out of New York and I had a long few hours to wait for the flight to take off.
The time seemed to fly by as I conducted multiple conversations simultaneously via text message, Facebook, and on the phone. I needed to check in, needed to update people on my travel plans. Really what I was feeling was a need to connect. I was lonely on Christmas Eve.
I lowered my iPhone, raised my eyes, and looked around at the people near me. Most were with family or significant others. I looked for some lonely traveler like me that I could engage in conversation. I saw it play out in my head like a Hallmark movie. We would exchange some casual pleasantries, then open up to some real meaningful stuff. One of us would have a bit of sagely holiday advice about what really matters, and then we would part ways with an eye-twinkling smile and forever remember that heart-warming experience.
“Look man, I’m really not in the mood to talk.” The only other solo passenger in the terminal made it pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in the screenplay I had in mind. And with that, I abandoned my mission.
Finally the plane took off, and I was on my way home! Until the flight attendant came on over the intercom and said we were descending into Washington… I was waiting for the “Just kidding.” It never came. Somehow, they miscalculated the fuel needed to get from New York to Portland.
So here we are refueling on an empty, snow-dusted Tarmac while I stew in my seat about how crappy this situation is. I’m hungry, exhausted, uncomfortable, and alone, surrounded by grumpy strangers on Christmas morning.
In the background amidst the grumbles and plane noises, I hear the voice of a kid making his way up the aisle behind me. He’s got to be 7 or 8 years old with curly dirty blond hair and a raspy voice. I couldn’t make out what he was saying at first. Then he came closer.
“I love you, I love you, I love you…”
Each person on this packed plane got a personal “I love you” from this innocent little child. He made eye contact. He made a little heart shape with his hands and moved it from his chest toward each person, as if to send a sprinkle of love wafting their direction.
He reached me.
“I love you.”
I couldn’t stop my eyes from getting misty.
All of a sudden my frustration and stress melted away. I actually believed this kid. I knew he was telling the truth. I really felt loved. All I had wanted for Christmas was to be around people who loved me. Thank you, little boy, for granting my Christmas wish, and giving me that eye-twinkling Hallmark smile.
He’s making one more pass singing “The First Noel” with some modified lyrics. I don’t think I knew the lyrics at 7 either.
Now I can close my eyes and enjoy the last leg of this long journey home for Christmas. With luck, I’ll make it home in time for breakfast.