The Christmas tree is up and stockings are hung. The Johnny Mathis Christmas record plays over and over. His jingle jolly voice is serenading me back to every childhood Christmas. Each year we would dig his cassette tape out of the christmas box filled with silver garland and tacky ornaments. We would play that tape non stop on our small portable cassette player. My brother and I taking turns to flip it over the second it ended, we did not want to miss a moment with Johnny. Without Johnny singing in the background, it wasn’t really Christmas, and it still isn’t. My parents still have that cassette, and they still play it every year on the portable cassette player.
We would spend Christmas week with my extended family in Costa Mesa. Driving down on christmas eve, we would squeeze into our 1990 sky blue corolla. A family of seven fitting into a car for five. I would hop around from lap to lap, but the brothers could only handle a nine year old sitting on their lap for so long. Sometimes my Dad would make me a seat on the middle console. With pillows padded behind me I would squeeze between my parents, keeping my elbows in and trying not to rest my knobby knees on the stick.
On one occasion of our trip to Grandmas we were in the usual “no money” rut, we were often in this rut. But every time we were in it, instead of getting upset or worrying how we would make ends meet, my Dad would always say we were on an “adventure”. The thrill of the adventure was watching how God would provide. Sometimes He would provide money to cover rent, often times it was food for us five kids, and once in a while it was even money to turn our water back on. No matter what it was, there was always provision.
This time it was money for dinner, and my parents’ plan was to take us to a buffet so we could fill up on “all you can eat food” for the long journey ahead. But there was only enough money for us kids, so my parents were going to sit this one out. They weren’t going to eat, so that we could. My Dad is the greatest man of faith that I know, when he asks God to provide, he has never doubted that He will. And to this day, God has never given him a reason too. As we were driving down the road, I heard my dad mumble a prayer, I wasn’t surprised as he did this often..it seemed he was always in a conversation with God. A few minutes after that prayer my dad saw something twinkle on the ground, he flipped the car around and exclaimed “I think that was money!” He threw the car in park and jumped out, and sure enough making its way to the gutter, were three twenty dollar bills. He ran back over to the car, waved the money for us all to see and said “The Lord provided, we’re all going to Sizzler!”
So we did. We all took turns going around the buffet, the boys stacked their plates with french fries and onion rings, on my plate was a little bit of everything, Mom had her salad covered in raw vegetables, and we each had at least three desserts. We all left with full stomachs, and a stronger faith. When we got back in the car, Dad put the cassette tape in, we nestled into our spots, and let Johnny Mathis lead us along the seven hour drive.
Christmas isn’t christmas, without Johnny…or Sizzler.