Reevaluating the Holidays After a Near-Death Experience

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When I drove to work the morning of my wreck, I’d never have been able to guess how drastically my perspectives on life would change.

It was the usual start to my day, same as always. The alarm went off at 5 a.m., giving me 45 minutes to shower, eat, and scramble into the car. Moderately below freezing at 22 degrees, it was an icy morning, typical of Virginian winters. I had just called my mechanic the previous day to schedule an oil change and replaced the wiper fluid to account for semi-frequent windshield ice.

All forgettable things, all unimportant things. Eerily similar, actually, to the holiday season that had passed a few weeks before.

I’m a workaholic. Always have been, probably always will be. There are no such things as vacations in my mind, just working trips. I’ve worked Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day just to make a point. More often than not, I’ve kept myself busy just to keep from feeling overwhelmed with all the holiday cheer. It’s not that I didn’t like the holidays; I just figured I had time to enjoy them later. Eventually.

Until the car hit me.

The other driver ran the red light to the left of the intersection, hitting the nose of my vehicle at almost 50 miles an hour. The impact deployed all airbags on the left side of my CR-V, slamming my head into the horn and crumbling the rear window. The interior lights flicked on as the driver’s side door bent away from its seal. Everything I had in the backseat rose up to meet me as I went off-road.

There were no movie moments as my car sped over the bank and toward the trees. I didn’t have any life flashbacks. Nothing moved in slow motion. However, I did think for a split second about how I wasted my last holiday season.

Whether or not you’re feeling holly jolly, spending quality time with friends, family, and loved ones means more than you realize.

But the vehicle did, eventually, stop rolling. Kind folks who saw what happened helped me get my bearings and called the local station to report the accident. The impact removed the entire motor. My shoes were stained black and green from various engine fluids. I heard from a few people that if the driver had hit me even a few inches back, the impact may have caused some serious damage — possibly paralysis. … Or something worse.

In the end, I recovered with some nasty bruises and great chiropractor work. It took two months to find a new car, and dealing with the driver’s insurance company was often frustrating. My days were consumed with back-and-forth phone calls and the occasional legal email.

Today, I do have another holiday season to celebrate. The problem is, I don’t know how many I have left.

You never know how much you’ll miss something until you almost lose it. Looking back on how many holidays I wasted in ignorance, I realize my own stupidity all too sharply.

Whether or not you’re feeling holly jolly, spending quality time with friends, family, and loved ones means more than you realize. We can’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we can know what is happening right now. And if you can spare time to tell others you love them, it’s worth anything else you have to sacrifice.

If you have the opportunity to celebrate with others, put your pride aside. I won’t say it's easy — I’m still a workaholic, remember — but for once, I’m actively trying.

And this year, it’s going to be the best celebration yet.

Tags: Christmas, Death, holiday season, Mindfulness

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Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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