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Christmas Coming of Age Holiday

December 1st, 2020

Dear Journal, (because I think Dear Diary is for 5th graders)

Today is the day I renewed my reasons for why I despise Christmas.

My hate for the holiday got to the point where I accidentally made Mrs. Jenkins cry last night. I hadn't meant to, but she wouldn't stop cackling Joy to the World at the top of her lungs at 11 p.m last night. It wasn't even December yet- an hour to it- and the old bat was probably already drowning her kitchen in tinsel. Last year she'd nearly burned the whole apartment complex down trying to make a ham for Christmas Eve and cooking a sparkly green roll of the stuff instead.

I'm aware of the nickname I've gathered: Scrooge. Very creative. Well, Bah Humbug I guess. Not my problem. Why it feels mandatory to love Christmas in this complex is beyond me, but the perfect distance from here to the office and the price is why I don't move. Perfectly expensive. This is why I'm always so befuddled why some of the residents are the way they are. The building's meant to be prestigious in a way. You needed money to live here, yet more than half the residents that I've had the displeasure of meeting act like hobos.

I'd almost regretted it when I went up a floor to the apartment right above me and screamed at Mrs. Jenkins, "Will you be quiet!? December is really an hour away and I'd rather you burn down the complex again than keep cackling this song-" Though I had a few expensive paintings I wouldn't like being burned with it- "There's no joy!"

Almost. But not quite.

She had burst into tears and slammed the door on my face. Not a problem if it got her to stop singing.

I've had a long day at the firm and I truly feel a little stupid writing in some leather journal about feelings and such but some idiot is pounding on my door now so I must leave it at this.

Signing off for now,

-J.C Montgomery.

James Clyde Montgomery opened the door to his apartment with a vicious frown, messing furiously with the tie on his navy blue bathrobe.

On the receiving end of this, a bulky man in a type of mailman uniform smiled uncertainly. "Um... I have a letter for a..." he checked the front of the snow colored envelope. An intricate red wax seal glued the flap down, with fancy cursive in black ink winding its way across the paper. "Sorry man, I'm not great with cursive." He squinted at the flowy letters for a minute, muttering to himself.

James snatched the letter out of his hands, growling, "then learn," and promptly slammed the door.

Inspecting the intricate seal and writing, he frowned. He was an important and talented lawyer at Montgomery Brother's Law Firm, taking over the family business after his father passed with an iron will and a side of anger issues. Maybe it was in regards to this.

He carefully took the silver letter opener he'd gotten from his 10th birthday and cut open the crimson wax. The writing was the same dark ink and scribbled cursive on the inside as well.

He read aloud:

In regards to relatives of Elizabeth Grace Montgomery.

We send our deepest regrets and condolences to inform you of the passing of Mrs. Montgomery. In regards to the will of Mrs. Montgomery, her considerable fortune of millions she decreed to be divided up among her last living relatives.

Among her only relatives is her Savannah Cat, Amythest, and one James Clyde Montgomery, her great, great-nephew.

Should Mr. Montgomery choose to accept the inheritance of Elizabeth Grace Montgomery, the full of the inheritance, as well as Amythest, should be his possession after following the instruction provided by Mrs. Montgomery.

Our sincerest condolences,

-Montgomery non-profit charity offices.

James, reading the letter, then the instructions, set the letter down, his head reeling. He'd never heard of his great, great aunt but apparently, she wasn't around anymore.

It was too bad the instructions included the one thing he'd refuse to do in order to gain the inheritance.

"I have to be joyful?" He scoffed at the letter angrily. "Have a good Christmas?" He flipped through the list of instructions, his eyes growing wide.

"December 1st, apologize to someone you hurt. December 2nd, donate $1,000 dollars each to three charities of your choice. December 3rd, decorate for Christmas- a lot...."

Trailing off, James realized the whole list was something to do each day of December until Christmas. All things he hated. All things the rest of his building would pay to see. Everything he was very much not. Everything joyful.

Looking at the sum of the inheritance below, he looked up in shock.

"I haven't even said Merry Christmas in years!" He signed. "It's going to be a long month."

December 3rd, 2020

I never thought being all holly jolly for millions of dollars would be this hard. The moment I got the letter, the task for the first day was to apologize to someone you hurt. My face was redder than Mrs. Jenkin's tinsels when I apologized to her. I think she almost had a heart attack, she was so surprised. Her face was probably redder than mine! I know it wasn't the point but it was hilarious.

The second day was harder than Ithought. I was good at throwing money at stuff- people, problems, they're all the same- but I'd never donated to anything, a charity of all things. I picked three random ones online. I hoped they were actual charities but I didn't care.

I'm tired and the delivery of my dark Arabian coffee blend didn't come this morning. The day I was commanded to decorate for Christmas of all things.

Let's just say I tried. A tree by the stone fireplace, some lights. I regrettably accepted some of Mrs. Jenkin's tinsel for my bookshelf. I nearly blew a gasket when I found a shower of silver tinsel flakes in a limited edition copy of Atlas Shrugged.

Until the next miserable day,

-J.C Montgomery.

The front door opened with a bang.

"Where you been, Jamesy?" a voice said.

James took one look at the person at their entranceway and sighed. "Hello, Harrison," he said, taking out a bottle of Merlot. He would need it."What can I do for you?"

Harrison McCaffery, James' partner at the firm, was a short, fat, and balding man that James only kept around because he was good at keeping the books. An old friend from law school, he'd followed James around until he'd risen to partner.

Keeping the books and intimidating people were his thing, though James was always wary that he would cross the line into what became illegal, though for what he wasn't really sure. Intimidation of witnesses, maybe. Embezzelment, probably.

"What the heck did ya do, Jamesy? Santa Claus throw up in 'ere?"

James scowled. "It's a long story."

Great, he thought. The next time anyone visits me it's because they've thought I've gone crazy.

He pointed to the tree and laughed, his beer belly shaking grossly. "Got a tree and everythin'!" He chortled.

James groaned and took a large gulp of the wine in his hands. "Harrison, leave."

He had enough to deal with without Harrison McCaffery making fun of him for it.

December 7, 2020

I'm officially thinking about quiting this torture. It's only been a week of apoligizing, donating, decorating, baking, volunteering, and singing of all things. Since Harrison's terrible visit, no one at the firm is taking me seriously. I'm their boss! They should respect me!

Honestly, if it doesn't stop, I swear I'm firing someone.

The next few things I have on the list includes volunteering- again! This time at some homeless shelter. I can't even imagine myself next to one of the other residents of the building, much less literal hobos. There's a reason they're homeless and I'm not.

Maybe I'm being a bit too harsh. I know there's other reasons.

I think it's just these Christmas "cheer" things rubbing off on me.

Wishing myself luck,

-J.C Montgomery.

James couldn't imagine volunteering at a place like this on any day, much less on a day this cold. He was bundled up in his black button up coat and wool hat and scarf, but even with his matching gloves the bitter wind managed to chill him to the bone. His face was cherry red and burning with cold and he knew he was having a terrible hair day.

The process of volunteering was simple, yet tortourously long for James. They set up long tables with steaming instapots, crockpots and large tubberwares filled to the brim with different foods- salads, chili, bread, mac'n'cheese, different types of soup and a very large cooler of waters next to a big dispenser of hot-chocolate put in small, white, foam cups.

They assigned him to the bread, which meant all he was doing was using plastic tongs to take a piece of bread from the pile and putting it on their plate. He couldn't tell if it was good to have a job so simple, just tongs, bread, plate, repeat, or even more boring.

A cheerful voice rang out in front of him, making James look up from his tongs and bread. "Hey man! How are you today?"

The man was a thin, tall African-American man with deep eyes. James frowned. "Terrible," he sniped. "Next!"

The other man chuckled. He had a deep, melodic voice, that matched him nicely. "Come on man! It's Christmas! Cheer up."

James set down the tongs. "Why would I be happy helping out some people on a freezing day who can't just get a job to just pay for a little apartment? It's not that hard and because you can't step it up, I'm out here suffering because of it."

The man was silent, everyone looking at James. Then, "we're out here for more reasons than you know. I'm out here right now because I'm not welcomed at my mother-in-laws since my wife died. My two daughters are there but I'm trying to get enough money to get a little apartment so I can see them again." The line murmured as the man nodded to another person. "Vanessa over there had her insurance or something all messed up by his ex-boyfriend. He burned down her house and robbed her. Not exactly her fault she's out here. Elliot over there," he continued, motioning to a small guy, "is barely out of high school. Just 18 last month. Foster care all his life, had to escape it. No where to go, no money for college."

James, not just because of the cold, felt frozen. Slowly, realizing how wrong he'd been, he nodded. "I'm sorry."

The man didn't seem angry, though. "That's alright man. We all have our problems. Ours is being homeless!" He laughed loudly, the rest of the people joining, cracking smiles or laughing along.

"He not wrong," someone snorted, which led to more laughter.

James couldn't help it. He laughed too.

After the day was done, James sat in his car, grateful for the seat warmers and hot air warming his frozen face. A knock on the window made him jump a little. He warily rolled down the window.

"Can I help you?"

The man was a lanky, elderly gentlemen who looked guant, holding one of the foam cups with hot chocolate. He smiled. "My name is Edward Culligan. I am-" he paused, then amended the statement, "-was Mrs. Montgomery's lawyer. I'm in charge of this inheritance."

James perked up. "Oh?"

The man gave a paper-thin smile. "You're doing well. We're still watching." Stumbling over, the whole of the contents of the cup poured into his car, making him yelp.

"Hey!" he protested.

But the man was already gone.

December 15th, 2020

I've had the strangest interactions with the man who calls himself Edward Culligan. Elizabeth's lawyer. This whole thing was strange- I'd never heard of my great, great-aunt before any of this. I'd never met her.

The day I volunteered for the homeless, I realized how wrong I was about those things. My task for the 9th of December was to give a generous sum of money to someone who needed it. I gave it to the man who I had talked to there. I felt so incredibly stupid and something else at the same time. I hated to say it, but I think it was joy. The thought alone made me confused and angry.

I was doing it for the money, but I'd ended up sending the Elliot kid to one of the local community colleges for a semester. I was planning on taking the one girl's case to help.

I didn't know what had gotten into me. I think the Culligan guy is more than he seems to be. I hated Christmas, hated December, hated all of it.

Yet I was feeling happier than I was in a long time. I even changed my lock so Harrison McCaffery couldn't burst in and make me deplete my wine collection everytime in lieu of regretting giving him a key.

I honest to God think I'm ill. Ten days left until freedom and I'm even richer. I can put this whole thing behind me.

Signing off,

-J.C Montgomery.

A loud rapping knock on the door made James groan. Rising from his armchair, he made his way over to the door, opening it with distain.

Finding no one in the hallway, he noticed a note taped to the door, the same bright wihte stationary with swirly black writing.

He sighed and read the note.

You're doing well, old chap. Keep it up! Sincerly, E.D Culligan.

James sighed with a small chuckle, going back inside to the comfort of his book and armchair. "Now he's just mocking me."

December 21st, 2020

The last few days I've found oddly fulfilling. In regards to the things on the 16th-20th, I actually hosted a Christmas party for the building. Not too many people came, no surprise there, but those who did, including a few people I'd never really noticed before, Mrs. Jenkins and the family from across the hall did. Everyone left happy that night. The whole night, we ate cookies, strug popcorn, watched movies while playing board games and even managed some caroling karaoke! It was safe to say I became a child again that night.

During karaoke, I was managing a duet with Mrs. Jenkins of Joy to the World, of all things, when there was a knock on the door. I didn't notice one of the guest had let a fuming Harrison McCaffery in, shouting about how insane I've gone and that there was no one left to run the firm if I continued this way.

I admit I wasn't the slightest bit embarrased by me and Mrs. Jenkins putting the music up louder and screaming carols and tidings of good joy at him until he left, fuming.

I've never been prouder.

Signing off,

-J.C Montgomery.

Edward Culligan visited James Montgomery the night of Christmas Eve.

The two men nodded in greeting, Mr. Montgomery motioning for the old lawyer to come in. "Mr. Culligan, it's nice to see you."

"Likewise, Mr. Montgomery. Merry Christmas."

James grinned. "The list worked, Edward. I'm actually happy now. I'm quitting the law firm. I'm donating, volunteering. They don't call me scrooge anymore."

The old man smiled. "I'm glad to hear that."

After a bout of silence, the two men, standing awkwardly, nodded once more.

Before the lawyer could leave, though, James stopped him. "Wait!"

Edward turned around.

"Who are you spending Christmas with?"

"I used to spend it with Elizabeth. I won't be with anyone this year."

"Me too." They were silent, then, "Would you like to come over for Christmas?"

The old man smiled. "I would love that."

December 25, 2020

It's me and Edward for Christmas. There's not much to say. I quit my job, and when Edward offered me the inheritene, I took it with one condition: that I would be the new head of Montgomery Non-Profit Charity Offices.

Edward is calling, saying dinner is ready. Apparently he can cook quiet well.

Honestly, if it weren't for that list, I would still be "Scrooge." There's not much left except to finally say it:

Merry Christmas!

Signing off,

-J.C Montgomery.

December 18, 2020 22:02

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5 comments

Judith Buskohl
22:46 Mar 17, 2021

I really enjoyed your story and read it all the way to the end to see how it ended. I am glad that James learned that life and Christmas can be a fun time. Keep up the good work of writing.

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Sue Marsh
16:52 Dec 26, 2020

Aubrey a few typos but nothing horrible. I truly enjoyed your take on the prompt. The storyline was well done. Great job. Sue If you have a chance please read my story "The Merry Christmas Bird and comment.

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Aubrey Spencer
00:20 Dec 27, 2020

Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m on my way to read your story!

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Aubrey Spencer
00:21 Dec 27, 2020

Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m on my way to read your story!

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Aubrey Spencer
00:21 Dec 27, 2020

Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m on my way to read your story!

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