A couple weeks ago Heath saw a trailer for a movie called Christmas Eve. It’s a 2015 movie in select theaters now. The trailer seemed interesting enough and since it wasn’t showing anywhere near us we decided to purchase it sight unseen on Amazon video. It cost us $13, well below the cost of movie tickets. We have now seen it twice and Heath has been wanting me to post about it.
I loved the movie. It’s very artistic and fascinating as a character sketch. The storyline is a man accidentally wrecks his work van into a transformer. It knocks out power in several nearby buildings in New York. The rest of the movie shows what happens in six different elevators. Everyone reacts differently and everyone comes to different profound conclusions about life. Many of the characters are connected somehow which is an interesting twist as well. It was after my second viewing that I realized the fired guy was the son of the penthouse developer.
I don’t know how to blog about the movie. It’s worth looking up the trailer on YouTube and checking it out if you can. I think about the movie all the time. I am often thinking of how the people reacted to being stuck in an elevator overnight on Christmas Eve. These thoughts resurfaced yesterday at different times.
Here is my story.
It was a lazy Monday but I wanted to do a little shopping. I still wanted to make a cape for Gwen to finish up her homemade costumes. Heath suggested I buy the fabric and sew it after Christmas with her. I thought that was a great idea. Off to JoAnn’s I went.
First I remembered I needed to stop by Target. A quick half hour there got me what I needed and I headed off to JoAnn’s. The fabric section was busy which I expected. I have learned that I better really need fabric in order to shop between October and December. I found what I wanted and took a number. They were on number 47 and my number was 63. It was going to be a long wait.
Several women were standing around the counter while two employees cut fleece for them. I soon realized these women were together and they were cutting nearly every bolt of blizzard fleece in the store. Someone asked what they were making. The response completely changed the mood around the cut counter. I was prepared for a long wait since it’s Christmas. All sense of annoyance melted when I learned the women were from the gas and power company. They were making blankets to donate to a non-profit agency for needy children.
Basically one employee was taking care of everyone while the other two feverishly cut fleece for these women. They had at least ten carts stuffed full of fleece. They were arranging the stacks of fabric to effectively squeeze 15 blankets worth of fabric into each cart. The shortest of the women commented that the cut receipt would be as tall as she was! It was all for a good cause so no one was mad at all. Some of us were helping them find the right color and suggesting other color combinations. It was a happy experience albeit long and boring.
My number was called and my fabric was cut. I grabbed a Diet Coke out of the fridge because I had already planned on getting one. After the long wait I definitely thought I deserved it. The cashier used my 50% off coupon on my drink since the fabric was on sale! I didn’t care.
On my way home I was stopped at a light. The car behind me was trying to squeeze past me to get into the left turn lane. I turned my wheels to move over as much as I could given that I was stopped at a light. He was able to make it. One more coat of paint and he wouldn’t, as my mom used to say. He gave me a courtesy wave and I felt great about myself and the world I live in. It was like I was the two roommates in the elevator who treated the situation as a fun party with strangers.
Hold that thought.
I pulled into my garage. As I did so I noticed the two doors between the garage and laundry room into the main house were wide open. It was strange indeed but not enough to stop my curiosity. I may have had the conscious thought that I could have left them open without remembering although that was highly unlikely. Still I walked inside my house.
I peeked inside and called out, “Hello?” That’s when I saw the sliding glass door across the room was shattered. I didn’t even let the image register in my mind before I turned around and got back in my van. I did shut the doors behind me out of habit. I backed out of the garage and shut the garage door. My heart was pounding in my throat. As the garage door closed I wondered where I would go. Do I drive to the school parking lot? Shaking with my heart galloping I pulled up to the curb in front of my own house.
The van was still running while I turned off the radio and called Heath. He told me to call 911. I have never placed a 911 call before in my life. The 911 dispatcher redirected me to my local police department. They immediately sent officers to my house. The lady asked me to stay in my car and to stay on the line. She didn’t talk much which was fine. I could hear fingers clicking on a keyboard and I found it oddly calming.
She would break the verbal silence periodically by saying the officers were almost on the Road to Nowhere. Then she asked a couple of times if I saw them yet. I told her they arrived and she ended the call. I got out to figure out what to do next. While I was waiting I received a group text from the Primary President. The presidency had been texting off and on through my shopping trip. Without even thinking I texted that I thought someone had broken into my house and the police were on their way.
By the time the police arrived my phone was dinging like crazy. Heath was trying to check on me and the presidency was reacting to what I said. My phone stayed in my back pocket while I walked toward the police. I saw my next door neighbor had come out of his house. He had a look of confusion on his face as he walked to his car. All I wanted to do was get to him to talk it out with someone. Maybe see if he knew anything. The police kept telling me to get back in my car.
Police: Let us check things out first. You don’t know if they are still in there or if they have guns. Just sit in your car and let us take care of it.
Those sentences were punctuated by me trying to get past them to my neighbor. Finally I sighed in defeat and climbed into my car after handing them the keys to my house. The Diet Coke from JoAnn’s was still sitting in the center console. I opened the lid and started chugging. My neighbor got in his car and drove up alongside me. Without keys I couldn’t roll down the window so I got out and talked to him through his passenger window.
He had been home for the last 30 minutes and said he hadn’t heard or seen anything unusual. I pointed out that we can’t see each other’s front yards because our garages stick out so far. Another neighbor came over. We all wondered together. Did they hop the back fence to disappear on the trail? I said that my yard is unfortunately easier to navigate now that we are paying for gardeners again! The police came to get me and my neighbors left.
No one was inside so I was allowed to walk through my house with them. Soon after the Primary President showed up. The police left the front door wide open and I could see her standing there. I invited her in and she walked through the house with me seeing it all for the first time as I was seeing my own violation of privacy for the first time. Words cannot express how grateful I was to have a friend with me.
She commented on how calm I was. There was no reason for my calm disposition. I am not a calm person. The Lord was comforting me. I think of it all now in hindsight. When I first walked in my house I felt uneasy, a definite departure of the spirit and I knew something was wrong. When I walked through with the police and my amazing friend I felt like a blanket of peace and security was covering my house. There is no other way to describe it. I know what I felt. It was undeniable and I know where it came from.
Valerie pointed out something interesting. She said, “You have so many pictures of the Savior throughout your house. They’re everywhere. There is a definite religious vibe in your house. I wonder how that affected the people who broke in.” Interesting question. That feeling of peace and comfort in the midst of my worst nightmare was palpable.
My first thought to her observation was how grateful I was that none of it was disturbed. I feel sick to my stomach to hear of vandalism to any church building. The symbols of my faith had not been touched. After she said that I noticed all of it. Primary papers were strewn all over my desk. A Primary binder was open on my desk to next year’s Primary manual. Gavin had left his scriptures on the table from our family scripture study the night before. Even the pictures still left on the card in Heath’s camera that was stolen contained religious pictures. He already put the pictures on a shared site but hadn’t cleared the card. It was full of children dressed up as they posed for a manger scene at our Ward Christmas party.
Maybe it will soften hearts. I can wish right?
Valerie stayed with me until Heath got home. As soon as he told me to call 911 he started canceling the rest of his meetings. He even had to postpone two meetings where he was supposed to interview potential new hires. He got on BART and headed home. He was anything but calm when he walked in the door and saw the sea of glass on the floor. When the wind blew the glass rained down more into the gazebo. Learning that the intruders cut a hole in the chain link fence only angered him more.
We began the tedious process of cleaning up, calling the landlord and insurance company. The kids were told to stay upstairs because they were safer in their rooms from glass. The glass was everywhere. Valerie texted me again offering to bring dinner. I could have cried. That’s what we Mormons do. We feed each other. I never want to accept the service when I’m sick or have a newborn. Dinner was the furthest thing from my mind last night but we were all feeling hungry. It was so nice to accept her kindness. We agreed she would bring In – N- Out burgers. She added milkshakes for the kids as a pleasant surprise.
It was nauseating trying to put my room back together and note things we noticed were missing. I don’t want to write about that part of the ordeal. I wanted to tell the story while focusing on the blessings. The hugest blessing being that I wasn’t home. I really feel like there was divine intervention with the circumstances at JoAnn’s. I feel like I was inspired to go through my day the way I did so the Lord could keep me out of my house for that moment in time.
I have told people on an as needed basis. Basically my message was – this happened and I couldn’t care less about real life right now. As a result, my visiting teaching companion stopped by this afternoon to check on me. Word has spread through the neighborhood and we have had neighbors call to check on us. I am really looking forward to going to our neighborhood Christmas party. It’s a close knit community and I am grateful to be a part of it.
It has been a crazy 24 hours. I want a new door installed soon. I just want to go back to normal. That won’t happen right away though. I think of the movie Christmas Eve and how the situation changed all of them. None of us will ever be quite the same after this. That’s the beauty of it though. We are blessed to have good friends and neighbors. We are blessed to have each other. I miss my things but in the end they are just things. There are more important blessings than things no matter how much they mean to us. Now if only I can find a way to always believe that.