It’s Christmas Eve here at the Pencilstorm offices and as the rest of the staff cleans up after our annual holiday party, I’m sitting down for one last assignment. As a side note, this year’s gift exchange went well for some and not so well for others. While Ricki C. got Springsteen on Broadway (on Vinyl), Scott got an authentic Ace Frehley Guitar Pick and Colin got The Complete Epic Albums Collection by Cheap Trick, my secret Santa was Jeff Hassler, who for some reason thinks I share his adoration for Styx, so he got me one ticket to their show on June 29 at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights. Why one ticket? He’s got the other one. I’ll probably come down with the flu that week and try to trick Ricki that the opening band is Mott The Hoople.
Any who, it’s my job to write the holiday blogs around here and I have to admit that it’s getting harder and harder to write about the magic of Christmas. I mean, have you looked out your window and seen the world we live in? Seriously, how many death and destruction government shutdown RGB is going to die doomsday scenario posts did you see on your Facebook feed before scrolling down to this one? My guess is there was at least 14 different stories. Is Armageddon around the corner? Vegas odds are 4/1 that we’ll see the end of the world in our lifetime. I’d take that bet but how would I cash in?
Here’s the great thing: with Christmas there is hope. In our darkest day of the year, someone lights a candle to shine for the world to see and scream at the top of their lungs, “Just like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption we can crawl through this sewer of shit and find freedom on the other side.” (Note: I am contractually obligated with Castle Rock Entertainment to mention Shawshank Redemption at least once a year.)
Hope. There is hope, folks, that this world can be a better place. But we can’t just sit in our houses scrolling through Facebook to find it. We have to create it. Let me share a story about my friend, Steve.
Steve’s no Superman but last Friday he was in line at the AMC Lennox to catch the 5:30pm showing of the movie Aquaman when he heard a car horn outside at the intersection in the parking lot. He could see from a distance that a Buick LeSabre was stopped in the middle of the intersection. Steve’s a mechanic and knows that these cars are frequently owned by older people. As he watched the car he saw it creeping forward to the movie theatre sidewalk. This AMC is one of those movie theatre entrances with big glass windows and doors that start at the end of the intersection - directly where the car was slowly heading.
Thinking the car may have an elderly driver that needed some help, Steve headed out to offer assistance. He approached the car, looked in the window and discovered a woman in her 30’s inhaling smoke from what looked like heroin on foil. She seemed higher than a kite. Your reaction here may be what mine probably would be: yell at the druggie woman for putting all these people’s lives in potential danger. Thankfully, that wasn’t Steve’s. He didn’t wanted to freak out the woman and have her accidentally hit the gas and drive through the AMC entrance.
Instead he had the foresight to gently tap on the window and get her to roll it down. Then he calmly reached in the car, put it in park and then took her keys. He called 911 and stayed on the line with the police and EMS to help monitor until the police and paramedics could arrive.
I don’t know if Steve ever got into see Aquaman but he was definitely a hero that night. Probably saved a woman from OD’ing, or worse yet, driving her car into a movie complex to hurt a dozen or so other people. All because he simply went out to see if he could help.
That’s what Christmas is all about: helping others because in the end, we’re all in this together.
The magic of Christmas isn’t in a box wrapped under your tree. It’s in you and me. Be a goddamn Albus Dumbledore Gandalf Merlin 25th Level Wizard this coming year and spread that magic everywhere. That’s what Steve did. Maybe one day we’ll wake up and end up on the beach of Zihuatanejo and forget all this shit ever happened. Until then, be magical.
From all of us here at Pencilstorm, to you and your families: Have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Wal Ozello is a science fiction techno-thriller novelist and the author of Assignment 1989 , Revolution 1990, and Sacrifice 2086. He's the lead singer of the former Columbus rock band Armada. His film work includes directing Dad Can’t Help You Now by Colin Gawel.