A COVID Christmas

A COVID Christmas

trees at Tahoe

Pulling a small sleigh, the reindeer galloping through the woods. Santa could see the cottage deep in the forest even though the snow was falling. Santa pulled on the reins to slow the reindeer down in front of the small cottage. The doorway, framed with the trunks of two tall redwoods, partially hid the opening. The wooden door opened into a two-room building made from other redwoods that had perished many years ago.

As Santa looked around the room, he found no sign of Merry. Her dinner was sitting aside of the burner of the small wood-burning stove. Almost as if she were still in the room. The cherrywood cornet shaped headboard made neatly with a worn quilt, clean, and corners tucked at the corners. There was a small wooden counter in front of a frosted window with a washbasin and several clean dishes stacked in a rack near the water pump. The fire in the fireplace, freshly lit, with her cat Noel sleeping peacefully on a circular rug. Placed near the fire was a rocking chair with a basket full of yarn and an unfinished project resting on the seat. As he peeked into the second room, she was not there either. It was an obvious working area. A small desk with a computer was open to a webpage on gratitude. Surrounding the room were bookcases full of books on peace, happiness, and stories for children. Looking on her desk, he saw an open letter, signed by Timmy.

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Turning, Santa carried the letter into the other room. As he moved the knitting and put another log onto the fire, he sat in the rocking chair to study the letter more closely. The writing was small, carefully printed in a child’s handwriting. He could tell the child had taken time to write the letter carefully by looking at the notes.

Dear Merry,

I am writing to you instead of Santa this year because I am confused and do not know how to approach him with my problem. 2020 has been a terrible year for both my family and me. Because of the pandemic, my parents lost their jobs, and we had to move in with my grandparents. It is nice here, and my grandparents are fun to be around, but it is not the same as living in our home. My parents fight a lot now, which never happened before. I am worried that they will separate, and we will not be a family. I do not know how to fix it. I try to be good, not to cause any more stress to the situation, but I just want everything to be all right.

I do not care if we do not have Christmas presents this year; after all, that is not the point of the holiday. Before, we went to church and celebrated the birth of Jesus. This year, Dad said, “why bother? God had forgotten us.” In my heart, I know this is not true. I just want us to have you in our lives to spread some Merry this Christmas. Could you help us?

Signed

Timmy Marshall


        Puzzled, Santa placed his finger beside his nose, deep in thought. I think I know where she is. Merry always has a soft spot for kids. That is why they love her so much. Merry knows I need her magic to make sure Christmas is Merry indeed. This little boy is in the middle of a lot of grown-up problems. Surely, Merry can find a way to help him. Using his cell phone, Santa calls his workshop. Speaking to Holly, his chief elf, he inquired about Timmy Marshall. “I will look up his records and get right back to you, Santa,” Holly answered cheerfully. Santa sat in the rocking chair, gently petting Noel. “Well, little girl, we need to help Merry and bring the good spirits back into this family. It must be hard on little boys when they see problems all around them, and they either do not understand or are powerless to change anything.  It is three days before Christmas, so I think I will take a little time off and see if I need to help Merry with this problem.

            Merry had read the letter several times. I need more information before I can develop a plan. Using her children’s finder’s app on her communication device, she found Timmy and his parents when they were children. Gerald, the father, had been a good kid. He grew up as an only child. However, his parents did not spoil him but installed a work ethic paid off in having a good job. When he was young, he often did things for the elderly neighbors, such as walking their dogs, cleaning snow off their walks during the winter, and running errands. Timmy’s mother came from a similar background but was raised by her father when her mother died. She was industrious and tried hard to take care of her father during those years.

            Scratching her head, Merry wondered as she sat back from the computer. What happened? What changed everything? Merry using her children’s finder application, located Timmy’s house. As a spirit, traveling was not a problem for Merry. Not wanting to scare Timmy and his family, Merry put on her invisibility bonnet as she landed on the porch of Timmy’s grandparent’s house. Going through the door, she found herself in a living room. Looking around, she saw a Christmas tree, lighted and decorated. Over the fireplace, colorful stockings hung waiting for Santa. At least they planned on having Christmas, Merry mused. Let us find out the core of the problem.

            As she drifted up the staircase, she saw four bedrooms. Peeking through each door, she found the parent’s bedroom easily. As she hooved over the father, she opened the window of his dreams and floated through. In this dream, the father was angry at his boss, wife, and most of his life. When he noticed her, “Who are you? Why are you interfering with my thoughts?”

“Gerald, I am the Christmas Spirit, Merry Christmas.  I came to you because your son wrote a letter to me telling me about your problems.  What has happened to you? I remember you as a child, and you did not have all this anger inside of you. What is going on?

“Of all the interfering females…how dare you to call me angry.” Slamming down in the chair next to the bed. He put his head in his hands and shook as he tried to shake Merry out of his head.  “I don’t know who you are, but you need to leave.”

Using her remembrance powers, she skimmed through his life during the last year. Humm mm, I see you were fine last Christmas as she slowed down the vision and moved slowly through January. Stopping the image on the scene at the end of February, then into March. Stopping it suddenly, Gerald sat up, looking at the vision on the wall. “How are you doing that? Better than that. Why are you doing this crazy stuff,” Gerald said, pointing to the wall.

“Gerald, just sit down and watch. We cannot fix this until I see what happened? Merry watched the anger building in Gerald, then sitting down, he tried to control himself. “Can’t you just leave things alone? I do not need some spirit or thing feeling sorry for me.  I can work this out on my own. I always have, and I always will.” Turning, he tried to leave but saw himself still lying in his bed, turning back to Merry. “How are you doing this?  Just leave me alone. Confused, trying to figure out how to return to his body, he finally just sat down.

            Stopping the vision, pointing to the vision, “There it is, there is the turning moment.” Merry stated as she stood in front of the vision. Looking unbelievable at the image, Gerald suddenly took a deep breath and murmured, the worse day of my life. The vision showed Gerald and his boss going over records. And finally standing, Gerald looked stricken. “I worked so hard. How could he have just said, “this is it; we can’t go any further? Sorry, we must close. You will need to tell the other employees we are closing, and they will receive a month’s salary, but we will not have any more work for them. Sorry, Gerald.” Then his boss walked away.

            Merry put her arm around Gerald’s shoulders and tried to comfort him. The vision kept moving forward as Gerald told his family of the news, how he sold his home, and how his parents asked them to come and live with them. Both saw the sadness in the eyes of his wife and little Timmy. Stopping the vision, Merry tried to speak with Gerald as he sat quietly, looking dejected and sad.

            “Gerald, you sold your home and paid all your bills off. You did not leave any debt unpaid. You still have funds left. Your family is healthy and safe. Your parents are enjoying having you and your family with them because they were lonely before. But your attitude has disappointed them. How do you think you can fix this mess?  Remember, when you were young, the tools your father gave you to handle adverse situations?” Sitting still for a long time, Gerald finally saw through the vision of how his life had changed as Merry played it for him one more time. Even though his actions bothered him, it was then how his actions affected the others, his family, that bothered him the most.  Finally, Merry’s form disappeared from his mind as she left him with the question.

            “I forgot…it is not the situation but how you handle the problem is what counts?” Remembering his early years when he fell off his bicycle or made a grade he did not like, His dad was always there for him. His dad would comfort him and said those words. How could I have forgotten? I have a son, and I failed at teaching him how to handle bad situations. Well, hopefully, it is not too late. As he drifted back to sleep, Gerald had an idea.

            As Merry left Timmy’s grandparent’s home, she saw Santa landing quietly on the roof. Floating up to him, she joined him in the sled. They dashed off the roof into the sky towards Merry’s cottage in the woods. As they sat in the neat little cottage, Merry shared the story. Through her communication device, they watched Gerald get up the next morning and institute his plan.

            Early the next morning, Gerald popped into the kitchen and made breakfast for the family. As each family member awaken, they heard Christmas music coming from the kitchen. Most of them heard Gerald singing along. Amazed, the family sat around the table as Gerald served each family member a plate with a steaming breakfast.  Gerald led them in a prayer of gratitude for the food.

“Stop looking so confused. Even though I have not been acting like me for the last few months, I am still me. I have a plan. Are you ready?” As Gerald looked around, he saw frowns and confusion, even from his parents. “Stop looking like that. I know my attitude has caused each of you to have doubts about our situation. However, that will change today.” Holding up a map of the neighborhood, he continued. “As you can see, I have marked the homes with different colors. The red ones are the homes with children, and the yellow ones are the homes of the elderly. Then two homes are empty. This is my plan. We still have savings. I suggest we take a little of that savings and try to help everyone in our neighborhood. Since we cannot visit due to the COVID rules, we can give them something to make their Christmas feel better.  I suggest we make a Christmas dinner for all of them. We only have two days to make meals for 25 people. We can do this. I know we can. Dad, like you always said, ‘it is not the situation, but how you handle the situation that counts.  I changed my mind. God did not forget me. He was just waiting for me to get off my duff and do something.”

Smiling at Gerald, his wife Nancy stood up, “you heard your dad, eat heartily. We have work to do.”

“We don’t have to buy turkeys,” joined in his mother, “I think I may have a ham that I was saving for New Years’, plenty of cookie stuff, canned vegetables. The kids can make cookies and desserts. I agree. I think the cost will be low enough to have a great meal still. Let’s check the pantry—what a great plan. Welcome home, son. We have missed you.”  Laughingly they all dug into the breakfast.

That day was a busy one, but a happy one for Timmy’s family. With the dinners made, cookies packaged for treats, the family delivered dinner for each neighbor. Placing each box on the neighbor’s porch, ringing the doorbell, the neighbors opened their doors to the gifts. As they shared, waving from the sidewalk, the neighbors were surprised, waved back, and thanked them for the box. That night, as they sat around the fire, tired, happy for the first time in the past few months, they realized being grateful was the missing factor after the scare from the pandemic. That night as they sat around the television and watched the Christmas services, each thinking of ways to continue the pattern of gratefulness, remembering the emptiness without it in their lives.

Santa hugged Merry, taking his hot chocolate, he climbed into his sled. Merry Christmas, Merry. Continue the excellent work and have a happy holiday. As Merry closed the door, she picked up Noel, “Now let’s see. I think we were about to eat dinner.”

Thank you for reading my little story. I hope that gratitude is in your life and that you have a wonderful holiday.  I will be back soon.

            Copyright ©2020 Grummer USA. Inc.

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