Christmas spirit

Whenever I find my Christmas spirit beginning to falter, I think back to a time years ago and a good deed on a blustery winter day in December.

The road I was travelling was awash in swirling snow, whipped into a frenzy by a gusting wind. The announcer on the radio said the temperature was only a few degrees below zero Celsius, but the wind added to the unpleasant bite of Jack Frost. There was nothing to impede the wind as the road I was on abutted two farmers’ fields, which were then devoid of vegetation in anticipation of another crop year when the elements would be more benevolent.

To the north stood one farmhouse with its accompanying outbuildings, but gazing down the road I was left with the impression that it was too far away to bring any comfort to my blight. More promising was another farmhouse to the south, which seemed to be only a kilometre or so in the distance. Fortunately, I was dressed for the conditions and started out down the country road located somewhere between Tyndall and Beausejour.

When I neared the farmhouse, my greeting party consisted of two rather large dogs. Both of the dogs lent credence to the old adage that their bark was worse than their bite. As I approached an outbuilding, their barking turned into curious silence and they happily paced alongside me as I progressed further into the farmyard.

Calling out, I attracted the attention of a young man emerging from the open end of a garage. I explained to him my dilemma — the car I had been driving was stuck with its two rear wheels perched off the edge of the narrow ice-covered country road, resting precariously positioned centimentres over the edge of a deep drainage ditch. The tires hadn’t penetrated too deeply into the ditch, but dislodging the car from its snowy trap was still too difficult for two adults and a 10-year-old boy to overcome.

The three of us had started out in the early Saturday afternoon in December on a quest for a Christmas tree. Once past Tyndall, we had somehow missed a turn onto a road leading to the tree farm. Realizing our mistake, I attempted to turn the car around on the narrow road when it became stuck.

The young man, who is now 46 years old, sympathetically listened to my tale of woe and then said he would give me a ride in his truck back to our car mired in the snow at the edge of the ditch. Once he had dropped me off to join my companions, he said he would return shortly with a tractor to pull us free. True to his word, he was soon at the site with a tractor equipped with a front-end loader. Before he could wrestle the car out of its snowy entrapment, he cleared a spot with the tractor’s bucket in order for the tires of the machine to get a grip on the ice-covered road. Once the patch of road was made ice-free to the gravel, he attached a chain to the front of the car and the rear of the tractor. What had seemed impossible using the muscle-power of two adults and a young boy was effortlessly done using the tractor. 

The car was free! 

With a sigh of relief, we realized our peril had ended. 

I profusely thanked the young man while vigourously shaking his hand. I asked what I could give him by way of compensation for his troubles, all the while also commenting on how stupid I felt for going off the road into the edge of the ditch.

His reply was a kindly few words that it could happen to anyone. In fact, he said, it wasn’t the first time he had used his tractor to dislodge a motorist in distress.

But what really set Robert Klapprat apart was what he said next.

“Have a Merry Christmas!” he beamed, while refusing any offer of money for his time and effort.

Despite our insistence, he ignored our pleas that he deserved a reward.

Instead, his smile showed the sincerity of his goodwill.

After we received directions from the Beausejour-area farmer to the tree farm, we once again thanked him for his help and continued on our way. After having selected two Christmas trees at the tree farm, all the while I was driving home I could not get Robert’s exemplary behaviour out of my mind. In particular, his wish of a Merry Christmas as his only reward echoed in my head. I thought how he had captured the true Christmas spirit, which myself and so many others often lose sight of. I am grateful there are people such as Robert around to give us a nudge and put us back on the right track.

He provided us with a Christmas gift that under the circumstances could not be more greatly appreciated.

I still think of Robert every year when Christmas rolls around. When I remember his good deed, I mentally wish him a Merry Christmas! It’s the least he deserves. Years later, I can safely say the remembrance of his good deed continually restores my Christmas spirit when it begins to falter.

Thanks again Robert, and have a heartfelt ...