The Best Christmas Present Ever

December 25, 2016

Driving home a barren country road early in the evening twenty-one years ago from the local village market, it was a cold, clear night. Rounding a sharp curve, one very bright star caught my eye. Knowing very well that this star was a planet, most likely Venus, however I could not help but be reminded of the Star of Bethlehem, lighting the way for the three Wise Men to find their way to Bethlehem, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It was Christmas Eve after all.

Two months earlier, life as I knew it ended quite suddenly, an accumulation of related events that cost me both my promising career and marriage. When you combine that with the medical crisis that nearly cost me my life, suffering still from several side effects to this day, I paid dearly for my youthful indiscretion. A payment I make every single day, and will until the day I die. Having renovated the farmhouse prior to moving in five years earlier, the first thing I did when the family moved out was to redecorate, removing any signs that a very troubled marriage once lived there.

I had spent Christmas Eve hanging new mini blinds, after recently painting the two front rooms, color coordinating both living rooms, one a light green, the other light blue. I had no problem hanging the blinds in the green room, however, when I got to the blue room, I needed a really small drill bit, but could not find one. By the time I realized I did not have the bit needed to finish the job, I knew the local hardware store (different village in the opposite direction, but the same five-mile distance away) would be closed on a normal workday, let alone Christmas Eve.

After renovating the farmhouse before moving in, and during the entire twelve years I lived there, I ended up with a small stockpile of nuts and bolts and odds and ends down in the basement, my own mini hardware store. However, being a life-long neat-freak, a perfectionist, and in the throes of becoming very obsessive-compulsive, I knew very well where all my drill bits were; in the metal case the DeWalt cordless drill came in. But knowing very well where all my bits were did not keep me from searching out that elusive bit all night long.

As the evening was nearing midnight, I’m thinking to myself, talking to God, wishing that I had just one small drill bit. I probably bought that drill when I first started working on the house, so I had owned it at least for five years. By 11:30, I’m thinking I would give anything to have one very small drill bit. Then, at 11:45, fifteen minutes before Christmas officially began, I had the bright idea of looking underneath the cardboard backing that came inside the DeWalt metal case. I owned that drill for many years, but never removed the cardboard packaging.

Underneath that cardboard, what did I found? No, it was not one very small drill bit. It was three very small drill bits, two shiny silver, and the other black. Were these newfound bits purely coincidental or someone’s present? Whenever I needed anything from the hardware store, I would buy extras. If I needed a couple of screws, I would buy a dozen or two. That’s how I built up my supply room in the basement. If I needed a small drill bit, I would buy three. I can understand how one bit might have fallen under the cardboard, but three of the same size. What are the odds on that happening?

What is somewhat peculiar about the bits were that they were two shiny silver, one black. What were the three gifts the Wise Men gave the baby Jesus? Gold, myrrh and frankincense. Myrrh is a natural gum that was used as perfume, incense and mixed as a drink, but was also as an embalming oil. John 19:38-39 tells us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea brought a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes to wrap Jesus’ body in after his crucifixion.

Two good, one bad. Two shiny, one black. Whatever the case, at that time and place in my life, when I had lost everything that meant anything to me, I could not have received a better Christmas present than those three drill bits.

Steven H. Spring


Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #20D

Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #20DDecember 24, 2015

The original photograph was shot one Christmas between 1996 and 2001, down on the farm, with the key word being “original.” Any one who has viewed my photos over the years might say, “I’ve seen this one before,” however, they would be mistaken.

I must admit that thanks to a marvelous thing called digital photography, some drastic improvements to the original photograph were made. I’m no magician, but like one not giving away the secrets of his or her tricks, I will not disclose the changes that were performed. If someone were to speculate, I would confirm his or her guess. It’s not that I do not want to disclose any secrets, as I have already shown both before and after photos to several friends. Though the changes made were very simple to do, however, the end results were quite impressive.

I think the changes made would make Ansel Adams sit back and go, “Wow!” In no way am I comparing myself to Mr. Adams, I just think he would be amazed by the technology. Just imagine what the master could have done with digital photography.

Steven H. Spring

Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #17B

Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #17BDecember 24, 2014

Christmas time down on the farm.  This was taken around fifteen years ago, before I lost the proverbial farm.  I lived there maybe a dozen years, and to quote Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The 4×6 print was scanned onto my computer, where some adjusting of the darkness level was done.

Steven H. Spring


Wilson Chapel At Christmas #22B.

Wilson Chapel At Christmas #22B

December 24, 2013

Wilson Chapel, located just down the road from the farmhouse in my Plattsburg Farm photos.  I shot a lot of photographs of the chapel, sometimes right after a blizzard, late at night.  I would shoot right outside my back porch, poking a zoom lens around the corner of the porch.

There would be complete silence, except of course for the howling of the wind.  Or maybe the girls, Dakota and Arizona, my two red Dobermans, playing in the snow.

If you liked this photograph, check out my two farmhouse shots, Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #19F & 23B.

Steven H. Spring

Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #19F.

Plattsburg Farm At Christmas #19F

December 20, 2013

Those of you who happened to see my post this past Saturday will recognize this photograph as very similar to the other.  This was taken fifteen years ago with 35mm film.  I then scanned the 4×6 print onto my computer.  After I had posted the previous version, I decided to try one more time at editing the shot.  What I did not like about it was the cut corn stalks poking up through the snow in the foreground.  I had darken the original image as much as I could without losing both barns to the nighttime sky, but those corn stalks stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

Instead of darkening the image again, I thought lets copy and paste and see what it looks like.  I like this photo much better.

Steven H. Spring