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* Christmas Eve by the side of the road, part I

December 25, 2018

One of the most unforgettable Christmas Eve’s I had was back in 1974. We were living in Madagascar and had driven north to Manantenina to see some friends at the end of 100 km of a not very nice road. Fortunately, it was in reasonably good shape (as in passable), so we got up to see them without a problem. That visit is worthy of its own post so maybe someday.
However, on our drive back south to get home for Christmas, we were about an hour out of Manantenina when there was a loud noise and the pickup suddenly didn’t want to move anymore. As it turned out, part of the chassis had broken and would need removal and to be brought back to Manantenina for welding before the truck would move. So my dad and mom, my youngest brother who wasn’t so very old and the broken part all hitched a ride back to the town while the rest of us “camped” out by the side of the road. “Camped” as we actually had no camping equipment with us. So the first evening, having had some supper, there were several of us who decided it was a lovely night to sleep outside. And it was. Stars so close you could almost touch them. Enough of a breeze to keep mosquitoes away. We laid in a row on a “tsihy” (straw mat) and talked, laughing at what we were doing.

And then some of the starts started to suddenly disappear. We didn’t notice it at first, but then it became obvious the clouds were rolling in. We bravely said “But there’s no thunder and lightening” which was true but as it turned out there was rain. So we crawled under the straw mat, hoping it would be a brief, light shower. You could heard the drops hitting the mat and then, before too long, the laughter of Dennis Wilson, one of God’s saints I’ve been blessed to know. He was laughing because, having a stomach which stuck out further than any of the rest of us, his was getting wet. And before too long, we were all getting wet. And so spent a soggy night by the side of the road. It was the day before Christmas Eve.

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