“Make sure to tie down the gifts” a sentence I have hear jokingly every Christmas season. In 2003, as we were preparing for our annual pilgrimage back to North Bay for Christmas, we experienced one of the more memorable Christmas’ ever.
My Father was gracious enough to drive up to Ottawa to assist with the trip as we were quite tight in our 1999 Neon. The car was not large enough for Terri and I, Owen, the two dogs, the gifts, the luggage and the stroller. On December 23rd 2003 Terri and my Dad packed up the Neon and the his Dodge Ram and were eagerly awaiting my call to say my work day was done and we were heading out. At approximately 3pm I called my dad and told him I was ready to go and he headed out to get me while Terri went to her cousin Marlene’s to say some good byes and we would meet there. Well the snow was falling and the drive to pick me up took longer than anticipated, we then had to drive to my cousin Mathieu’s (My dad was giving my cousin a ride home) and meet Terri. Everything was going well, we got to Mathieu’s and all piled back in to go get Terri and Owen. This is were the fun begins.
Somewhere between Mathieu’s and Marlene’s our large Rubber Maid tote full of Christmas gifts fell out of the back of the truck. Now this would not have been so bad had we noticed when it happened but we didn’t notice until we got to Marlene’s. The Total distance from Matt’s to Marlene’s is probably only about 10Kms but in rush hour and going right through downtown it could take forever to search and find the gifts.
I had a melt down on the couch, my dad felt terrible, Terri talked it over with Marlene and Mathieu started calling every radio station to have them announce that we had lost the gifts and if they were found who they could call. I got in the car and carefully retraced our steps but to no avail. As I walked back into the house dejected I was greeted with a warm meal and some sympathetic shoulders to cry on.
We resigned ourselves to the hands of fate and the kindness of strangers as we headed west gift less and a little sad. The ride to North Bay was quiet and uneventful and we arrived unscathed. We had a fairly restless but well needed sleep and arose the next morning to many enquiries from friends and relatives as news of the previous nights events circulated. We put on a brave face and went about our normal holiday festivities. Our running joke was that we had gotten everyone new cars but that the keys were in the box we lost and were irreplaceable. My Father in a magnificent gesture went out and replaced the one gift that really meant a lot to me. I had gotten Owen a little statuette of a father and son for his first Christmas and my father hunted down another just like it and wrapped it up for Christmas morning.
Exhausted from the merriment and cheer we collapsed on the night of Christmas 2003. We were awoken on Boxing day by loud screeches and screams from my mother as she dragged us from bed to take a phone call. On the phone was Marlene, someone had found the box and returned it to the local Newspaper. The paper had run a story about the box of gifts found who the gifts were addressed to and if you had any information to call. Terri called the newspaper and arranged to have Marlene pick it up, Marlene and her family were going to be passing through North Bay that evening and would drop off all our gifts. This was an amazing act of kindness; I mean really how many people would find a box full of presents and try to find it’s rightful owner? Turns out the women that found it thought there maybe a body inside or something equally as sinister and never even opened it.
Our answering machine was flooded with calls from friends who had seen the article and the paper wanted to do a follow up piece. So my son, not even 6 months old, was going to be in the paper for a 2nd time. The second article recapped our trials and tribulations and allowed the city to put a face to the idiots that lost all their gifts.
Now that we had all the gifts we had another Christmas for everyone but had to come clean that we hadn’t gotten them cars. So this is the end of my Christmas tale, all turned out well and I tell you we will always firmly secure our presents from now on.