Writer regains ‘Christmas Spirit’

By on December 20, 2017

My wife Julie called  frantically from Park City Wednesday to tell me she’d left her wallet in a cart at Wegmans in  King of Prussia .

“Oh no, not again,” I said empathetically.

Image result for hermit crab pics

“Again?” she asked. “What do you mean?”

Obviously she’d  forgotten  about the incident exactly 12 years ago today.

But I remembered.

In fact I documented it in a column printed in the Lancaster Intelligencer  Journal  Dec. 26, 2005.


Funny thing though, I didn’t remember it accurately.

I thought that day ended similarly to today (Wednesday), a  day which reestablished  my Christmas spirit.

Such a great kid, collecting carts at Wegmans, who returned Julie’s wallet and refused to take a reward for being honest.

How’s that to inspire Christmas spirit?

It compelled me to dig into the LNP vault where I discovered the details I’d forgotten in 2005. 

They involve credit cards, a hermit crab and…remember those old-fashion computer floppy disks?

Here’s my Christmas Story:

Assignment proves ideal cure for ‘grinchiness’

By Patrick Burns
Reprinted from Dec. 26, 2005

Every so often an editor delegates an assignment so special it makes a reporter consider thanking his supervisor for doling it out.

That was the case for me Sunday when I covered the 15th annual St. Anne’s Catholic Church’s Christmas dinner for those who otherwise would have spent the holiday alone or are unable to afford a meal. Image result for american express card pics

The unpretentious thankfulness cast by the dinner guests and the magnanimous efforts of the volunteers evoked the true meaning of Christmas and lifted my spirit, which had recently taken a turn toward cynical.

My elevated outlook and a recent series of unusual events compel me to share my personal Christmas story.

Despite having two beautiful children, Maggie, 4, and Michael, 2, a foul temperament was influencing me on what should be the happiest time of the year (and my life, really).

A jailbreak two weeks ago — Maggie’s hermit crab, Hermie, had escaped from its cage — initiated my ire. I braced for the foul vapors of decomposing crab to materialize in time to welcome Christmas visitors.

Just before heading to work last Tuesday, I learned my computer floppy drive was jammed. This was particularly unwelcome because I’d just paid an incompetent technician $300 to fix the motherboard, and he ended up erasing a lifetime of my children’s pictures from the hard drive.

Shopping Wednesday at Hawthorne Shopping Center, my wife, Julie, lost her wallet, which contained $80 and a number of credit cards. We feared someone would use her check card to wipe out our account.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I found myself playing phone tag with the police in an effort to report the loss. Julie was going to file a report but didn’t have gas enough to get to the Manheim Township Police Station — and no money to refuel with.

But things began to look up when Julie examined our computer problem.

She discovered Michael — who has a proclivity for pilfering purses — had lifted his mother’s wallet before she lost it. Apparently, he decided the pivoting door on the floppy drive begged to be fed, and American Express and Visa check cards made perfect appetizers.

With the computer “repaired” and the credit cards found, my worries returned to when Hermie’s rotting corpse would unleash its fetid odor.

Then a funny thing happened while Julie and I were assembling toys in the basement early Christmas morning. After bending to retrieve a dropped screw, my wife gasped, “I don’t believe it!”

In the corner was the purple shell that housed the elusive crustacean’s exoskeleton and jointed legs. Though ravenous, thirsty, chipped and mangled after tumbling three flights of steps, Hermie was alive.

Maggie celebrated Christmas morning with Barbie and Bratz dolls, but nothing topped the shriek of overwhelming joy when she discovered Santa had brought Hermie back.

I’m not sure what all this means, except:

To Maggie, Hermie’s return was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, and to Lancaster’s hungry and lonely, St. Anne’s Church volunteers are Christmas miracle workers.

Ed Note: Julie’s wallet was never recovered…but we did!


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