My Christmas wish

My Christmas wish

HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge

There is magic to my Christmas celebration again.

I’d let it drain away somehow, slowly losing its luster as life got older. Perhaps because of no children or grand-children about, or simply taking life for granted.

Then I died and/or hung on the edge a few times. In the fight to stay alive, I rediscovered a lust for life. I try to remind myself how fortunate I am to still be here, despite whatever negative wrappings may come with the gift of living.

There was a time when I was not sure I would see another Christmas. In fact no one really did including my lung specialist, doctors or family.

The nightmare started several Christmases ago.

As many readers know, I survived two major jaw and mouth surgeries (first one failed) losing all my teeth except three and my entire lower jaw replaced with a titanium plate and nine inches of bone from my leg. All of that due to a rare disease titled Osteomyelitis. With stage four Emphysema, the eight hour surgery was daunting.

Seven tubes sticking out of me and a tracheotomy meant turkey was not on my diet.

That was followed up with Christmas seasons hovering at the hospital due to a mysterious CO2 poisoning and an induced 48-hour coma.

Two years ago, a major bout of pneumonia threatened my Christmas at home however I escaped a few days before – after begging and nearly screaming to be sent home for Christmas. I convinced nurses I was safer at home than in the hospital as COVID was rearing its head.

Life has not been all that easy the past two or three years at work as well as play. Like so many others, the strain of accountability and trust can begin to weigh heavy in trying times. The homeless scenario in Kelowna has certainly been a trying time. Mix in the woes of trying to operate a City under normal circumstances and the job is sometimes daunting.

However, it was COVID-19 that temporarily kicked the wind out of my sails again. Sure. I was home again, but now I could not leave.

The funk set in again.

Last year Tez and I were moaning the fact that we could not enjoy any full blown Christmas celebrations, shows, parties or even social gatherings like we were use to. Her daughter was in Calgary and we had no one for Christmas. Then one of us (probably Tez because it was brilliant) suggested we could Zoom her daughter and have Christmas dinner together that way.

Granted it wasn’t quite the same as being together – but it worked.

Earlier this month, Tez and I were once again frustrated with COVID-19 restrictions and restrictive health issues stopping us from seeing family and friends. We were spiraling down into depression.

How easily we forget.

Thankfully, Tez and I started reminiscing one evening last week about how the past half dozen years of miracles have resulted in my still being alive to have that very conversation. How blessed we are to be sharing another festive season together. How I am not (touch wood) in the hospital. We kicked ourselves in the butt, recognizing we had been, once again, taking life for granted.

Surviving the nightmarish surgeries I went through (tubes, stitches, staples everywhere, no water for 23 days …) taught me some valuable lessons. I learned about putting one step in front of the other. To value what I have, not dwell on what I have lost. Live the moment I am in and be thankful for it.

Love every day like it is your last.

So I greet this Christmas hopefully, with the passion of a child in a wide-eyed wonderment of it all. I have learned the hard way that you never know when it may indeed be your last Christmas. (And if you’re wrong then what a great a memory).

Yesterday, I was sadly disappointed to learn that my precious grand-daughter and two great-grandchildren will not be able to make it over for Christmas due to colds.

I spent about a minute being sad – then kicked myself again. Forgetting to be thankful sets in quick unless you keep a handle on it. Tez and I have vowed to make the best of the news. Like we did with her daughter we will Zoom my granddaughter and family – then visit personally when we can. We are just thankful to all be alive to Zoom together.

So, on Saturday, I will be able to tell my granddaughter, great grandkids and other friends and family Merry Christmas.

And lucky me – I get this space to wish the same to you Kelowna. Merry Christmas!

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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