I know, I did a whole blog series on gratitude in November.  I think you got the point.

Still, today I need to make some room for gratitude in my Christmas season.  It doesn’t end with Thanksgiving and I’ve had some seriously awesome experiences the past couple days.

Yesterevening (that’s a word, right?), I was pretty lonely.  I decided to solve that problem by going to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey again.  No, it would not change the fact that I was going by myself, but at least I would be around people.  It felt like the right thing.  I got everything done that needed doing, practiced the text for my introduction of a musical piece obsessively, and got in the car thirty minutes before the show.  As I got closer to the theatre, I started feeling like this wasn’t the right thing to do, but that going home wasn’t an option either.  I was a mile away from the theatre when I saw the sign for a tree lot.  It sported the name of an old friend who–strange as this sounds–I had never met.  He had told me mere days before that I should come pick up a tree, that even though I live in a TEENY-TINY, NO ROOM FOR TREE apartment, he’d have something for me.

After some nice internal debate (a surprisingly small amount, actually), I decided that meeting an old friend in person was what I should be doing last night–The Hobbit could wait.  I went to the lot and spent an hour and half chatting with my friend’s girlfriend–who is absolutely wonderful–and then another hour chatting with the two of them.  They really have no idea how much better my night was because of their friendship.  I had chosen the ABSOLUTE WORST way to solve the loneliness problem (mostly because it was the only option I could make happen)–I may have even made things worse, had I chosen to go to the movie.  Often, being in a sea of strangers can exacerbate feelings of being alone.  But, because a kind woman welcomed my friendship, I was able to hang around and meet my friend.

She even gave me a tree.  I had known her for an hour, and she gave me a tree.  That enabled me to set it up and decorate it as a surprise for my frazzled, retail-working roommate.  Mikki has had a heck of a season at her store and I knew last night was going to be just as bad, if not worse.  Because of the kindness of friends, I was able to make sure our last night at the apartment before we went to our families for Christmas was happy and full of the holiday cheer we had managed to find on Thursday.

Today, I went to church with no small amount of trepidation.  I had spent five weeks preparing, with another young man, a joint sacrament service for the two congregations in our building.  We had practiced the two congregational choirs separately, and this morning was our only joint practice.  Due to sickness, I had not had the opportunity to practice with my own pianist.  During the actual sacrament part of the service, I sent a desperate plea to my Heavenly Father–I had done my best and I knew it was just not enough.  I told my Father that I was giving Him this program, and I asked Him to make up the difference for my inadequacies.  He did.  The choirs sang beautifully and everything went smoothly and according to time.  The Lord perfected our humble offering.

I would be ungrateful, indeed, if I were to say that it was my idea to go to the tree lot or my huge amounts of preparation that made the performance happen.  It wasn’t.  I thought to go to a movie.  I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off for five weeks.  In the end, it was the divine intercession of the Lord that allowed me to have these two wonderful days.  If it were left up to me, I think my Saturday and Sunday would have been empty and hollow.  Instead they were full of friendship, light, and the Christmas spirit.  How blessed am I?

Without measure.