I love Christmas. It makes me think of so many things. It makes me think of lights and Christmas trees. Of baking, Christmas parties, and shopping for loved ones. Of past memories of Christmas traditions. Of previous Christmas experiences such as my trip to see the Rockafeller Christmas Tree last year in NY. But in particular, it reminds me of one particular Christmas where the Lord provided for me in more than one way. I warn you now, it’s a little lengthy…

In December of 2006, I was working at my first job after graduating college. I was doing data entry at a company I knew nothing about. I was getting up at 5 am in order to get ready and arrive at work at 8 am after an hour drive. I was still a temporary employee. I was 2 weeks away from becoming a full time employee with the company. I had worked over 500 hours in tiny cube with a computer that barely worked. I punched a time clock and was not given internet priveleges to ensure I worked the entire 8 hours a day I was being paid. I had worked very hard in order to gain this promotion and I was quite excited about securing a position. Was I in love with the job? No. Did I even feel valued? No. Did the days go by so slow that there were some days where I checked my watch multiple times an hour? ABSOLUTLEY. But I was an adult now. I needed the money. I needed the security.

My one saving grace for not going insane was the walkman radio and headphones I purchased one day on my lunch break. I needed something to keep my mind occupied while I punched in information into the same system hundreds of times a day.(Sidenote: anyone who has done data entry knows what I’m talking about). I usually listened to country or talk radio. But when December hit, I changed the station to the local station that played Christmas music. A day or two after listening 8 hours a day, I started playing along with the Christmas game they were playing.

Some of you may have heard of it or some variation of it. It’s called “Holiday High-Low”. Basically, they pick a jackpot amount between $500 and $5,000 and they take the 10th caller every top of the hour. The caller guesses the jackpot amount and they tell you if you are too high or too low. People who follow along can write down the guesses and eventually someone calls in with the correct jackpot amount and they win whatever the amount is. 

Well after listening all morning one day, a caller called in and guessed $2 lower than the previous caller. The first call was too high and the 2nd caller was too low. Well, I knew the jackpot. Anyone who had been listening carefully enough would have known that it was obvious that there was only 1 amount in between the 2 guessed amounts. I knew the answer. I knew the jackpot amount.

My mind started racing. Should I call? Should I let it go? Will they fuss at me for leaving my cube and going to make the phone call? I mean, what are the chances I will even be the 10th caller? Oh forget it. So for the next hour I worked away as they kept reminding everyone of the time to call in at the top of the hour. Before I knew it, it was 3:00 and time to call in. Something told me to do it. I had to give it a shot. I grabbed my phone and ran outside. I sat in my car and dialed the number with shaking hands.

Shockingly, the call went right through. It rang about 8 times and then a booming voice came through. The disc jockey asked me my name and then proceeded to tell me I was infact the 10th caller. I almost dropped the phone. ME?!?!? SERIOUSLY?!?!?!? He asked where I worked but I decided to not give the name and just the industry type. He then asked me what I thought the jackpot amount was. I gave him the amount that I had carefully been repeating in my mind for the last hour. I read the number I had written on my post it and circled over and over. He then repeated it back to me. I agreed he had said the amount that I believed, no I KNEW, was the jackpot number. He then announced I had won. I. HAD. WON.

I sat there in my car. In the parking lot of a job I hated. A job I drove 2 hours round trip to every day to type in numbers. A job where I litterally punched a clock. I had just won more money than my bank account had ever seen in my entire life. My mouth dropped as I was placed on hold. I was in shock. “Wake up!! You just won!!” My mind was telling my body over and over but my I was frozen. I was shaking from the nerve of it all. Holy moley. I had won.

When he came back on the line, he took my full name, address, and phone number and gave me directions on what to do next. He told me about the paperwork I needed to come to the station and fill out. He congratulated me and I hung up. I then got out of my car, walked back into work. Sat down at my cube and waited on the commercial break to end. I had been pre-recorded incase it needed to be edited. The commercial ended. They played the jingle and then I heard my voice. Hearing it out loud was surreal. I grinned as I heard the words, “Melanie, you have just won the Holiday High-Low Jackpot of $3, 890. 07”.

That’s when it hit me. I couldn’t contain it any longer. I did the happy dance. I didn’t scream, I didn’t shout. I did the happy dance in my little 6X6 cubical. Then heads started popping up all over the large room of cubical neighborhoods. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who listened to the Christmas station to keep sain. In a flash 4 women were standing at my cube to come see if what they had heard was indeed the 21 year old temp sitting in the corner. They couldn’t believe it. Before I knew it, the entire office was a buzz with the fact that I had just won a cash prize on a radio contest.

Before leaving for the day, I stopped by my supervisor’s office to remind her I was taking a PTO day which I had put in for weeks before. She said it was fine and congratulated me with a big smile. I left feeling the best I have ever felt in my life. I got in my car and called my Dad. I then called my Mom. I then called my best friend and roommate. None of them believed me! I guess I can’t blame them. But after assuring them I was DEAD serious and this was not a joke, they all three screamed on the phone with excitement for me.

The next day, I decided to go ahead and go to the radio station to fill out my paperwork. I filled it out and turned it in. I would be receiving my check after the first of the year, roughly 30 days. I left and headed to the mall. I Christmas shopped like I had never shopped before. It was honestly one of the best feelings in the world. To not have monetary contraints is an amazing feeling. I bought gifts based on what I sincerely wanted to get them, not what my bank account said I could afford. It was a great day.

The following week, I returned to work. The excitment of it all had blown over and it was back to data entry. I continued listening to the Christmas station and I loved hearing the rule that states you can’t win more than once a season. I no longer could play because of that rule. How cool is that? Well, I thought it was cool…

On Wednesday of that week, I went to work like any other day. I worked a full day, went home, and started some gift wrapping. Then my phone rang…

*Check back tomorrow for the rest of my saga…