Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1995 07:30:49 -0400
To: xxx
From: Nichael Lynn Cramer  
Subject: A Small Christmas Story

Of no specific relevance, but a story I wanted to tell someone...

As some of you may know I live in Southern Vermont.  I work at home
about half the week, but spend the rest of the week down in Cambridge
[Mass] at my "real" office.

Last Monday I was at home and around noon I got a call.  An in-coming
nor'easter (read "blizzard") was being predicted, and as a result two
days worth of had-to-happen meetings (originally scheduled for later
in the week) had been moved up to what promised to be an especially
long Tuesday.  "Just in case".

(Note that this left me with whatever time I had left on Monday,
_after_ I drove down to Cambridge, to finish up all my intervening
preparatory work.)

So after a late start (of course, my wife had been out doing the last
of her gift shopping when I got the call), the two-hour drive into
Cambridge (of course, crossing 128 right at rush-hour) and a frantic
round of touching-base with various people, I finally got settled in.
After a few hours of frantic hacking I decided around 9:00 it was time
to head over to a friend's house for supper.

Now, as I suppose is true with many people --and despite present
outward appearances to the contrary, this is certainly true in my
case-- this has always been a very contemplative, a very "inward" time
of year for me.  Part of this is the season, part the impending
beginning (and end) of the year and (as is becoming increasingly true
with each passing year) part my own upcoming birthday.  And finally
--without boring you with the details-- I'll just say that this year
has been one that in particular might tend ones mind toward
introspection and thoughts of mortality.

Combine all this with hard-dying semester-based habits left over from
my student days, and what this means is a week-or-so pre-holiday
ramp-up followed a virtually complete "systems shutdown" during the
week between Christmas and New Years.

So, as I say, I was over at my friend's house (I should mention that
Glenn is currently take classes at the Cambridge Institute of Culinary
Arts.  Good lord, the things he can do with chocolate... )  Anyway I
had work to do before sleep that night, so I reluctantly headed back
to my office about 11:30.

Once I fought my way down the icy sidewalks of North Cambridge and got
in my car I discovered that I still wasn't _quite_ ready to go back to
work.  So to kill a little more time I decided that I'd make a longish
detour through downtown Boston, take a spin around the Common and see
the giant Christmas tree that is usually such a draw this time of

Well, the tree-viewing was a bust (the lights had been switched off by
the time I got there) but it was actually a rather pleasant drive.
After all I had the nearly snow-bound streets of Boston more or less
to myself at that time of night and many of the streets (Newbury in
particular) were Xmas-lit in all their splendour.

Now, as I was driving I was listening to a late-night replay of "Fresh
Air" on the radio. Terry Gross was interviewing an author named R[???]
Morgan who has a new book out call _The Truest Pleasure_.  The main
characters in this novel are a woman, who had been raised in a
Pentecostal church, and her husband, a Southern Baptist.  Much of the
plot involves the tensions in their marriage which result from the
husband's embarrassment at the "spirit-filled" nature of his wife's

It was actually quite a good interview.  Terry Gross was asking many
insightful (and respectful) questions about how all of this reflected
the author's experience and he in turn was quite articulate in
describing his views towards such things.  And much, as you might
expect, was finding an especial resonance, particularly in my present
frame of mind.

In particular, I recall one passage in the interview where Terry Gross
had asked the author whether he had ever undergone or wanted to
undergo an intensly religious experience such as he had described in
the book.  And the author spoke at some length to the effect that,
while he had never had such an experience and while he doubted very
much that this would be something he would ever actively seek, that,
yes, there was a part of him that wanted to know such a experience
very much.

Now, by this time I had started slouching back towards Cambridge and
in particular I found myself sitting on Mass Ave a couple of blocks
before the Charles River at an intersection which was almost totally
dark except for the red light from the traffic signal.

I was sitting there, the car and my mind both idling and I happened to
look down the side street to my left.  And there, coming towards me
out of the night was a large white light with the single word
"MARANATHA" written plainly across it...

Now, I suppose I _could_ spoil this story by pointing out that a
moment later the light became visible as an exterior dome-light.  Or
that as the car turned into the intersection I could see the driver's
door with the words "Maranatha Cab Co" written in black letters on an
otherwise featureless white car.  Or I could test your credulity by
pointing out --as I just now realized-- that the cab must have been
coming out of Beacon Street.  But none of that wouldn't be very
sporting of me, now would it...  ;-)

So, anyway, I headed on back to a night of graphics hacking, thinking
that, in any case, this was sure one way to start your Season off with
a bang...

Merry Christmas, ol' net.buddies!

Nichael	                           __	Be as passersby -- IC

Copyright © 1996 Nichael Lynn Cramer

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