A Miracle, of Sorts

A Miracle, of Sorts

Let me start by saying that the story I’m about tell is not about a miracle—at least not the kind of miracle that we often associate with the Christmas season. So, this is not a story about a poor beggar who suddenly becomes a millionaire or a dying widow, surrounded by her grieving children, who instantly is cured of her malady. No, my story is nothing like that.

But, still, I experienced something that, in this materialistic world, is quite unique and worth sharing. 

My story begins on Saturday, December 8, 2019. I had procrastinated for days, but now I was determined to put up my Christmas tree and get into the spirit.    

It’s a modest tree (four and half feet tall) made by Balsam Hill. It’s artificial, and its main attraction for me is that the lights are already attached to the branches. In addition, there are only two parts, a top and a bottom. When the bottom part is placed into a provided stand and plugged in, the lights come on. The next step is to take the top part and attach it to the trunk. An electrical connection is then made and the upper lights turn on. What can be simpler?

Since the tree worked fine last year, I was sure that nothing could go wrong. So, I placed the bottom part in the stand, plugged it in, and, voila, lights. I then took the top and attached it to the lower trunk—and nothing. No lights. 

Perhaps I need to re-attach the two parts again, I thought to myself. So, I separated the two parts and tried again. Same result. I repeated the process three more times without success. Each failure increased my frustration level.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I decided to read the instructions manual to see if I could resolve the problem. In the “Trouble-Shooting” section, I found two suggestions should the lights not work. The first one was to replace a fuse in a plug located close to the trunk. 

I never knew that there was such plug, but after a diligent search, I found it. The plug had a small door that had to be pulled open to gain access to the fuse. The fuse was perhaps a quarter of an inch long and very thin. No human finger could remove the fuse. Fortunately, I had some needle-nose plyers. With a technique that would make Ben Carson envious, I extracted the fuse and replaced it with a spare one that came with the tree. I closed the plug door, plugged the tree into the wall socket, and still no lights. Strike one.

The second suggestion was to find the “Master Bulbs” and replace them with spare bulbs that came with the tree. Like the hidden plug, I never knew there were master bulbs. I searched carefully, and, by golly, I found three of them. Like a regular tree bulb, replacement was a piece of cake. 

I took a deep breath, said a little prayer to the patron saint of Christmas trees, and re-plugged the tree. And, lo and behold, nothing happened. The tree was still in partial darkness. Strike two.  

Well, enough is enough. I decided to call the company to see if they would have a solution for me. 

The young lady who answered the phone was very kind and listened quietly as I explained my dilemma. She looked up the purchase date of the tree and sweetly said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Addis, but your warranty ran out fourteen days ago.  However, some times we make exceptions. Let me make a call while I put you on hold. “

Put me on hold? Can there by any combination of words that is more laden with anxiety than those words? My first thought was that I would either by cut off or I would wait forever because I had been forgotten. Luckily, she was only gone two or three minutes. 

When she returned, she said that the company would send me a new top part of the tree, but it would take a while because there were none in the warehouse. 

“Would I get it before Christmas?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “It might not be until June or July.”

Trying to inject a little humor, I said, “Well, I guess I could always have Christmas in July.”

She chuckled and said, “However, what we will do is send you a string of lights so that you can wrap them around the tree.”

What could I do? I thanked her for her kindness and said I would look forward to receiving the lights.

Four days later, a FedEx truck pulled up in front of my house. I was surprised when the driver exited the cab with a large box. He carried it to my back door, and I said to him, “I’m not expecting anything in a big box. I wonder what it is.”

He replied, “It’s a Christmas tree.” We wished each other a Merry Christmas, and he was on his way. 

They must have found a top for the tree, I thought to myself. But when I opened the box, there was a new complete tree, upper part and all. 

I set up it, plugged it in, and all the lights gleamed. Now all I had to do was decorate. 

As I said at the start, it was not a divine miracle, but one could argue that it was a secular miracle. A large, multi-million-dollar company chose to ignore a lapsed warranty and make a customer happy at Christmas. And that’s sort of like a miracle, right?

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Written by
Thomas Addis