As The Snow Falls
Staring at the toys all displayed in their brightly colored boxes distinct designs. Hearing the children call out to their parents that they want this and that toy for Christmas. Laughter all around and an infectious holiday spirit in the air. I alone though am on an island of despair. Work was slow I could barely get enough money to put a roof above my family’s head and there was always little food to spare. Many nights I went to bed hungry, so my wonderful children didn’t. How could I tell my kids that Santa wasn’t coming this year? What kind of man can’t give his family a Christmas? “Excuse me sir?” said a young woman “Do you mind if I get where you are?” She was so kind in her request, so I turned and left my tournament for just a moment. That Woman did me kindness she couldn’t have imagined. I was about to break just like how so many toys that are cast away are. All that I could think about as I made my way out to the car empty handed was that I would disappoint everyone again. Walking thru the door of the store and into the vast parking lot with a sea of cars a light snow was drifting down. It was almost a Christmas eve story on tv, but now I just worried about wrecking in my beat up two thousand F-150 pick up truck that only had two-wheel drive. Ice had formed in the keyhole of the door so now I couldn’t even get into the only comfort I had in the world. Tears fell to the ground though I don’t know who’s they were. Nevertheless, I needed to get home, so I dug down deep and pushed on remembering an old trick my daddy had taught me oh so long ago. “Now son if your lock ever freezes its all right just ask for a lighter from someone and use it to heat up your key a bit and put it in the lock, so it melts” God I miss my father he always knew just what to do. Moving on that advice I asked an older man dressed in work clothes, a small pair of spectacles, with a big white beard and long white hair, and to top it all off he was puffing on an old timey pipe. “Sir I’m sorry to bother you but do you have a lighter I can borrow my lock on the door is frozen and I really could use some help” The old man turned towards me, and he smiled this radiant smile and said “Of course you can but we have to be quick Christmas eve is the busiest night of the year for me”
With that he gave me his lighter and helped me get into my old truck. I couldn’t thank him enough though I tried my hardest “Thank you so much I’m sorry that you have to work this Holiday you seem like you deserve some time off.” The old man grinned and said “I honestly don’t mind I can’t remember a Christmas Eve I haven’t worked”
“Well, your wife must hate it cause I know mine would.” I chuckled for the first time in it seemed like forever. Just talking to him seemed to brighten my dim outlook. “Well, I must be going I have a deadline to meet” said the old man and he turned and started to walk away “Before you go what was your name?” He turned back to me and said “Chris “I laughed and said, “Like Chris Kringle?” All that he gave me in response to my joke was a mischievous half smile and a twinkle in his eye and he hurried away.
That strange man was all I could think about on the ride home about how someone could be so genuinely kind. Then the moment of dread came as daddy pulled into the driveway covered in a thin sheet of snow but a small cozy home just big enough for my growing family. Seeing their little faces poking up over the windowsill to watch daddy come up the drive does my heart good after a long day, but this time it’s a bit bittersweet. It all comes rushing back, the sense of failure, regrets, and despair at not ever being enough. As I put the truck in park, I look at my cracked calloused hands and wonder if a man can still make it in this life by the strength of his back and the skill of his hands. Gathering all the courage I could possibly muster I walked to the door and was greeted by my two little boys who beamed with life. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them without a smile on their face. That will all change tomorrow I guess when they find out I’ve ruined Christmas. “Daddy!” they both screamed as they rushed me almost knocking me down. “How have my little men been doing today? Were you all good for mommy?” I asked, “We were the best!” said one “Yeah, we want Santa to come tonight!” Just a little stab in the heart, and almost the perfect way to start to explain to the kids that there won’t be a Christmas this year. Closing the door behind me and moving into the living room I thought of the best way to tell them. Sitting on the couch I was almost eye level with them. “So, boys this year we might not be getting a lot of presents this year or none at all cause I heard Santa was super busy. He even told me that he’d make up for it double next year though!” I can’t believe I lied thru my teeth to my own little boys “I bet he’s busy and if he needs help, we’d love to help!” yelled the boys still as happy as ever. I was forcing a smile, so I don’t cry only to look up and see my wife and the love of my life in tears. “Well time for bed hurry up now before the boogeyman gets yah!” and with a joyful screech they rushed to their room and to bed. “Babe don’t cry please. I’ll make everything okay soon I promise.” I said as I reached out to hold her, but she turned from me and said “You better because they deserve better” with that she went to the bedroom and closed the door leaving me standing in the empty family room. I put a bit more wood in the fireplace and watched the flames flicker and catch the new fuel alite until I drifted asleep.
The next thing I know there was a thud that woke me up, startling me. As my vision cleared, I saw a dirty plump man in work clothes with long white hair facing our dilapidated Christmas tree shaking his head saying in a familiar voice “This just won’t do.” I shot up from the couch and whispered forcefully “WHO ARE YOU? GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” The dirty old man just chuckled and turned around revealing that it was Chris from the parking lot earlier! “What are you doing here Chris?!” I shouted in a hushed tone as he pushed up his dirty glasses and smiled warmly at me. “Well, I’m working of course can’t you tell?” Shocked I replied “Working?” He said in a matter of fact tone “I am Chris Kringle you know, Santa Clause. You guessed it earlier.” The last part made me chuckle a bit. “Prove it than.” I said indignantly. So, he gave me a warm look as he reached into his pocket pulling out a small velvet bag that was the only clean thig about him. I watched almost in a trance as he pulled on the drawstrings opening it and the more it opened the bigger the bag got till it was almost as big as he was. Amazed I couldn’t even speak as he began to pull out present after present laying them around our little tree with great care. Finally, I got my ability to speak back. “Why us, and why now?” He turned back to me with almost what felt like fatherly love saying. “The reason for the season got in contact with me and said you all needed a little bit of help this year. Son he knows you’ve been trying your best to be the dad that your kids need and the husband your wife deserves, and he said that he loves you and that it will all be alright he’ll make everything alright soon enough” As he spoke those words I began to cry uncontrollably letting all the pent up emotion out and dropping the false cloak of strength. “Well, we can’t have that now can we.” Santa said as he reached out an touched my forehead causing me to drift back asleep.
I awoke at the sounds of footsteps down the hall by the bedrooms. It must be Mom getting the kids up for breakfast. I started to think about last night and how it must have been just one crazy dream that just felt too real. All I could do was stare at the ceiling not wanting to confront reality of what this morning meant now, disappointment from everyone. It all changed when the kids came running into the family room and screamed “Santa came!” at the top of their lungs. I shot up from the couch and looked at a sight that was truly something to behold. A big beautiful tree adorned with lights, garlands, bulbs of bright colors. Round about the tree was a mound of treasures for the kids that seemed like a kings haul. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my wife round the corner and cover her mouth with both hands as she sank to her knees crying tears of joy. I was so shocked I didn’t know what was real and if I was still dreaming. Then I heard a knock on the door, I jumped up and almost ran to answer it expecting to see Chris again. Though when I opened it, I saw a plain dressed man with long curly dark hair, dark tan skin, with a dark beard to match. He smiled at me and reached out a calloused and heavily scared hand to me saying, “Hello, my name is, well that really doesn’t matter you know who I am. I see you’re a tradesman by your hands I was a carpenter by trade, but I got promoted you can say.” I was so dumbfounded I didn’t know what to say so he continued “I’ve always liked you and your family, and I felt like you all suffered enough for a while. Oh, my child you did your best, and that’s all I ever want from anyone. When everything fell against you, you stayed strong for others sake. I admire that. Please keep being a good father and you might just find treasures unseen. Oh, and enjoy my birthday dinner for me cause I kind of need to get back to work” With that he let go of my hand and walked away. Then snow began to fall, and the man vanished it took everything I had not to collapse right there in the door way cause my heart burned within me like my soul was on fire. I closed the door and passed the kitchen and saw a table full of food perfectly prepared and hot ready for the eating. I called for my wife and when she came to the kitchen and saw what I saw she broke down yet again asking. “How did you do this?” I only could mumble “I didn’t.” Then she got up and started opening cabinets seeing shelves that were once bare packed with food for months. She started thanking God over and over.
Feeling overwhelmed I went back to the family room and sat on the couch and watched the kids open present after present till one of the boys got up and walked a letter with a little bulge in it over to me saying “This one said its for you dad” I reached out puzzled and took the letter and opened it and out fell a little lighter. The very same one old man Chris let him borrow last night. Then I pulled out the note and it read….
I know life has got you down and out but keep that chin up because I hear thru the grape vine good things are coming your way. I wish me and the misses could see the faces of your family this morning. Sadly, though our work is done. Though I leave you with this bit of wisdom I acquired over the years of being Santa Clause it’s a greater gift to be a good father and husband than to buy the who world full of toys and treats.
P.S. You can keep my lighter incase you need to get into your car again.
From your friend forever,
Chris, you know who
After reading the letter I walked to the back door of the house and looked at the sky. Feeling for the first time in a long time that I had the strength to continue and prayed a thankful prayer causing me to cry tears of joy that fell as silent as the snow falls.